They find marine species thought to have gone extinct 40,000 years ago: experts had only seen fossils | Technology

A shellfish thought to have been extinct for some 40,000 years has resurfaced off the coast of California.

alive A species believed to have been extinct for 40,000 years appeared, from the clam family, on the coast of Santa Barbara, a city in California, United States. Until now, its existence was only known from fossils.

The unexpected finding was reported in the scientific journal Zookeys, where the scientists point out that finding this mollusk alive was “a surprise.”

Scientifically known as Cymatioa cooki, it is a small, translucent mollusk, belonging to the group of clams.

This elusive sea creature was spotted “in the rocky intertidal zone of Southern California,” according to the paper, especially in an area that is under constant study.

“It’s not that common to find a species known alive from the fossil record for the first time, especially in a region as well-studied as Southern California,” explains University of California marine ecologist Jeff Goddard. in Santa Ana in a statement. Barbara.

It was not an extinct species

It was exactly in 2018 that Goddard saw Cymatioa cooki alive for the first timewithout being able to identify it with other species of its genus.

The expert took some photos and shared them with other scientists, who also found no resemblance to other currently living clams. It was then that he decided to collect a few to study them better.

However, he was not immediately lucky, several months passed before he found her again. In March 2019, he finally found her again under a rock

The specimen was taken to Valentich-Scott, an expert in malacology – the study of molluscs – at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Although he did not find any similarities in his extensive inventory.

Both scientists set out, combing through old records, but pitched theories that it could be a new species.

looking, They found illustrations of a 1937 fossil that ultimately matched Cymatioa cookiso they concluded that the species was not actually extinct.

There are still some doubts

Currently, Goddard continues to search for this species and wonders how the shell escaped detection. for a long time.

“There is such a long history of shell collecting and malacology in Southern California, including people interested in the hardest to find micromolluscs, that it’s hard to believe no one has even found the shells of our little treasure” , he notes.

Anyway, suspects it may have settled in other deeper areas and was later carried along due to the current and the swell.

“The clams may have arrived here in the currents as planktonic larvae, transported from the south during the 2014-2016 heat waves,” he says.

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