08/22/2014

‘Evolutionary Misfit’ Finds Its Way Into the Family Tree

7:59 minutes

Hallucigenia sparsa was a spiked, 14-legged worm that lived in the Cambrian sea. It was originally described as an “evolutionary misfit” because scientists had been unable to link it to modern-day animals. Now, reporting in Nature, researchers explain how the strange-looking creature might fit into the family tree. Paleontologist and co-author Martin Smith describes how the claws of the worm helped to unlock the mystery.

Segment Guests

Martin Smith

Martin Smith is a junior research fellow in the department of earth science at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.