Strange Illinois Fossil Mystery May Be Solved

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CHAMPAIGN-----Fossil hunters appear to have a clearer picture of what a Tully monster is.

Hunters have been finding samples of Illinois' state fossil in the Mazon Creek area for decades. But no one has ever been able to identify a Tully monster. That changes Thursday with the publication of a paper in the journal Nature.

The Nature article can be read by clicking HERE.

Researchers, including Field Museum paleontologist Scott Lidgard, have found a primitive precursor to a backbone in Tully monster fossils. That makes it a vertebrate and a potential link in the search for the origins of vertebrates.

Lidgard says the discovery is also personally important because he has always wondered about the Tully monster.

Colleen Schmidt works at Mazonia-Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area about 50 miles southwest of Chicago. She says people still regularly find fossilized Tully monsters and other prehistoric creatures.

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