Nature and climate News | Scientific ecology

Sea monsters as buckyballs: for the sake of survival, sea creatures changed their anatomy 80 million years ago

For the sake of survival, sea creatures changed their anatomy 80 million years ago

80 million years ago, sea creatures On Earth were like a soccer ball. And modern science tends to blame buckyballs for it. Buckyballs are carbon molecular compounds that are convex closed polyhedra. It consists of 60 carbon atoms that form a hollow sphere. The molecule resembles a soccer ball. 80 million years ago, when the sea level was relatively shallow, life in the ponds was difficult. Living things were a prey for each other.

To survive, many of them changed their anatomy. For example, the distant ancestors of the sea urchin changed their anatomy and appearance using buckyballs. Petrified fossils represent two species of sea urchins of the late Cretaceous. They have a unique external structure.

The arrangement of their protective plates, called cups, is geometrically similar to carbon spheres. Such a comparison helped the scientists to understand how the body shapes of living organisms were changed in response to pressures and environmental changes. Specialists from the University of Western Australia and the University of Cambridge decided to apply special graphical methods to calculate the determination of the structures of two species of sea urchins, known as crinoids.

The created models either had very unstable forms, or their creation was considered impossible at all. The survival of such organisms was critical. And for the sake of survival, they were able to form a meat-like structure around them that could withstand heavy loads.

This was necessary to maintain buoyancy and to protect against dangers from the ocean. Crinoids can be mistaken for plants. They look like a branch. In fact, these are the animals that have changed their anatomy for survival. In this form they got an ability to spread across the planet.

They were found in the Cretaceous rocks near Texas, and in Western Australia. Organisms were able to form such level of protection that allowed them to hide on the bottom of a shallow ocean, swim in a specific body of water or travel on long distances.

Their spherical cups looked almost the same, resembling a soccer ball. This species resembles carbon nanostructures. Mathematically, they corresponded to each other: the Marsupites looked like an exploded version of a spherical molecule consisting of 30 carbon atoms.