Recently, Geological Magazine published a paper by Aaron Sappenfield of the University of California, Riverside, and colleagues, introducing a big enigma: a graveyard in the arid Death Valley with 13 jellyfish fossils, said to hail from “540 million years” ago.
New Scientist sees something exceptional in the discovery:
“The jellyfish in the Cambrian seas seemed to have looked and behaved a lot like they do today. Sappenfield and his colleagues believe that the ancient jellyfish also lived near the shore, until tides or waves pushed them closer to the beach. When the tide receded the animals got stranded, just as modern jellyfish do.
But jellyfish washing up on today’s beaches have a poor chance of becoming fossils. Most are quickly torn to pieces by scavengers or curious children.”