The first matrushka | Science News



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The first matrushka

10:19am, October 30, 2007

From Austin, Texas, at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

A team of German paleontologists has unearthed a fossil that preserves one creature inside another that's nestled inside yet another, a Paleozoic version of the Russian nesting dolls known as matrushkas.

The unusual find came from material deposited about 290 million years ago in a large lake in a mountainous area of what is now southwestern Germany, says Stephanie Klug, a paleontologist at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. All creatures in this fossilized food chain represent known species, she notes. However, this is the first time that researchers have discovered direct evidence of a three-level aquatic food chain where all members were vertebrates.

The ultimate predator in the ancient gluttonfest was a 1-meter-long freshwater shark. Just before the shark died it had evidently swallowed two larval amphibians. The lengths of their skulls suggest that each animal,

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