Mysterious 'minion' creature with a mouth, no anus is not a human ancestor, scientists find

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A "wrinkly" creature with no anus that was thought to be part of humanity's family tree is in fact not, scientists announced Wednesday.

Saccorhytus coronarius is a 500-million-year-old microscopic, spiny marine creature that resembles the popular characters from the “Minions” movies.

According to a new study from the University of Bristol in England, researchers discovered the fossil should be put into an entirely different group of animals.

An international team of researchers described the Saccorhytus as a “spikey, wrinkly sack, with a large mouth surrounded by spines and holes" interpreted as pores for gills – a primitive feature of the deuterostome group, which human ancestors also emerged from.

But an analysis of the fossil in China revealed the holes are actually the bases of spines that broke off during fossilization.

Saccorhytus
Saccorhytus

“Some of the fossils are so perfectly preserved that they look almost alive,”  Yunhuan Liu, a professor of paleobiology at Chang’an University, wrote in a news release. “Saccorhytus was a curious beast, with a mouth but no anus, and rings of complex spines around its mouth.”

The findings, the release said, make important amendments to the early phylogenetic tree and the understanding of how life developed.

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"It's a bit confusing," Emily Carlisle, a researcher who studied Saccorhytus in detail, told the BBC. "(Most) ecdysozoans have an anus, so why didn't this one?"

One option, she told the outlet, is an even earlier ancestor of this whole group did not have an anus, and that Saccorhytus evolved after that.

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mysterious minion creature with no anus is not a human ancestor