Tully Monster

Nov 27, 2002
Where I grew up (rural Will County in Illinois, former coal-mining country) there used to live a bizarre oceanic critter lovingly known as the Tully Monster. Fossils in the famous Mazon Creek area especially turn up this 300 million year old...thing, which has become the Illinois State Fossil, found nowhere but in my home region of Illinois and now some coalmines in central Illinois. No one seems to have even the remotest idea what it is, beyond that it's probably related to molluscs.

Watching a local show about Illinois history last night, I saw the Tully mentioned, and I was reminded of a photo Colin recently posted of his cuttle feeding from his hand. It's something of a stretch, but they did look a tiny bit similar. Anybody ever heard of the Tully before? I notice we have some experts here on fossil cephs...could the Tully be some sort of ceph relative? Is this a rather impractical idea? Whatever it is, it's a cool critter.

Here's a link to some information about the Tully Monster.

http://www.paleoindustrial.net/Tully Monster 1.htm


I'm no invert expert, so I can't answer your question, but I thought I would throw in my two cents' worth.

Aye, I've read about this beastie when I was a kid. Speaking like a cladist: Tullys monster appears segmented, much like an annelid, and bears a superficial resemblance to a sipunculan. The eyes on stalks thing is reminiscent of arthropods. I dont think it was a ceph, or even a mollusc, but I do think there were links between these phyla anyway, so it may have been a relative, a sort of "annelidarthromollusc". :P

I have a feeling it was related more to the Phylum Annelida (Earthworms, Polychaetes and Leeches). Free-swimming polychaetes are not unheard of, and having an extrovertable jaw modified into an actual sipunculan-like extrovert is not too out there. It could have been a scavenger, swimming around and using its "extrovert" for picking at carcasses for bits of meat. It could have also been a modified arthropod for that matter, maybe one descended from the soft-bodied forms of crustacean parasites.

*shrugs* IMHO, its cool no matter what.

Of course that's just my opinion... I could be wrong. I'm looking at shared traits like a cladist, and that's not always the best way to classify things. Heck, it could be a free-swimming Onychophoran for all I know...

Welcome to TONMO, where the past, present, and future is cephalopods.... Cthulu calls, and this time he's got a great wireless plan!

Sushi and Sake (hold the ika and tako please)

Yeah, I wondered about annelids, too. I dunno. The mouth is undetermined, but since much speculation is that it's not at the end of the proboscis, my imagination immediately went "Hey! Cuttlefish with feeding tentacles!" The segmentation of the critter is apparently currently in debate...some say clearly segmented, some say maybe not segmented at all. The persistent mention of molluscs is one of the primary reasons I've leant away from annelids in general...I've been assuming someone has a good reason for thinking that. As a ceph lover, I'd love to think that the world-famous fossil from my own backyard was actually some sort of ceph-relative.

I just LOVE bizarre creatures like this!

I've been lucky to mess with a good number of polychaetes and annelids, alive and dead, as well as sipunculans. Worms of that sort can be REALLY weird/cool animals, and having a tank with lots of different ones would be pretty neat.


YEAH!! Wouldn't it?! :biggrin2:

I think a lot of the coelomate worms do share a common ancestry with molluscs way back in time... Yeah, Tully's degree of segmentation can be called into question, but it does appear segmented.

So where DO they think the mouth was? And are they SURE that those were teeth on the end of the "proboscis"? Hmm... Somehow, if all that is the case, then the body design makes little sense.

Yeah, I love the bizarre too. Look up Rhizocephalans... W E I R D ! ! !

Don't get me wrong... I too love the ceph, but Invert Zoology is a great subject that covers whole PHYLA, not just classes like mammalogy, herpetology, and the like. Those classes were cool, but invert zoo kicked the proverbial booty. Cephs are one class of a diverse and fascinating phylum and you could spend a millenium studying just the living members of this group and still only scratch the surface.

I have a post where I was asking questions about the evolution of molluscs, their past, present, and future. Animal Planet recently showed a program called "The Future is Wild" dealing with ideas of future animals and evolution. Acording to this show the most intelligent animal on Earth 200 million years from now is a descendant of the cephalopods, the Squibbon, an arboreal creature with surprising intellect and social behaviors. While most find this an impossibilty, I wonder... as a CLASS, mammals have had a relatively short time (65 million years or less) to establish their dominance and display a wide variety of body plans. In short, we exploited every post-Cretaceous niche, every nook and cranny we could. We developed digging claws, fins, wings, and even hive mind eusociality. Given the right mixture of niches, pressures, conditions, and 200 million years a land walking ceph isn't too out of the question...

Who knows?

Life was, is, and will continue to be bizarre. Its a helluva wild ride though. :smile:

Sushi and Sake (and good Sukiyaki)

Absolutely...what I love best about inverts is they can never, ever fail to amaze me, no matter how much I learn. Just when you think you've seen it all...suddenly you see footage of O. wonderpus, or of a translucent swimming sea cucumber, or freshwater jellyfish, or countless other things. You don't even NEED to look at the fossil record to see the most bizarre things...they're alive right now, many of which we've probably never even seen!

Inverts, marine in particular, can be about as alien as I can imagine anything to be, yet are right where we can find them (if we go look.) I hope the PBS and Discovery Channel-types keep providing us new footage of these guys, and I especially hope our resident giant squidologist can provide us a nice, loooong movie.

And maybe an autograph? :P

Fujisawas Sake said:
Welcome to TONMO, where the past, present, and future is cephalopods.... Cthulu calls, and this time he's got a great wireless plan!
:lol: I gotta record that on a .wav file and make that the homepage greeting... :roflmao:

Yeah I must agree I think that the Tully monster was some form of annelid too. I must say I've always been struck by the similarity of the 'trunk' and overall body plan of Tullimonstrum to that of Opabinia. I doubt if there was any close link between the two, separated by over 220 million years and (probably) different phyla, but you never know! Perhaps this is a good example of convergence, similar body plans evolving for similar functions. (just a thought).

One researcher, Foster, has speculated that Tullimonstrum was a heteropod i.e a swimming shell-less gastropod though I think that most researchers place the thing in its own phylum.

BTW, Rusty, if you like bizarre extinct marine invertebrates then I think I have just the beast for you.........

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Lovely reconstructions and beautiful fossils.

Interesting...that Opabinia DOES resemble Tully. I remember seeing Anomalocaris before, I think in a nature show trying to reconstruct ancient oceans. The site mentions if I was a trilobite I wouldn't want to see this thing coming. Heck...if I was in the ocean TODAY I wouldn't want to see that thing coming! I'll bet those grasping arms and that mouth could do a lot of damage.

I never actually tried finding fossils in the Mazon area. I gather folks used to be able to do that...I wonder if there's still public access to it, or if the site can't handle public combing and needs protection.

Hey Phil,

You know what that thing reminds me of????

I was watching Star Trek - it was the one with the female captain? Voyager I think - Well, the captain and one of her crew members crash landed on this planet and something about the planet made them evolve like crazy, they went through millions of years in like a few weeks.(or maybe they went back?)
Anyways when the rest of the crew found out where they were and came to rescue them, what they found were two giant salamandar looking things with a whole litter of babbie salamandar things.

and thats what that reminds me of!

needless to say the captain was alright and they returned her to normal along with the crew member

:cyclops: it was pretty freaky.

Oh yeah, I saw that episode of Voyager too; it was terrible! Didn't Janeway 'get frisky' with Paris or something in a salamander form? Yuck.

As for Velvet worms, methinks Colin is your man. I believe he used to breed them.
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