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- A 500-million-year-old tunicate fossil species is recently described by researchers.
- For now it is concluded that after Cambrian Explosion the modern tunicate body was established and the species observed a dramatic rise in its population on earth.
- These are marine invertebrate species belonging to subphylum Tunicata.
- A total of 3,000 species of tunicates are believed to have existed in the oceans of this planet.
- Their body structure is sac or barrel like with two siphons, a tubular opening.
- These siphons are used to draw and expel water, filtration of water and also help in feeding.
- Though this species is invertebrate, these are considered as closest relatives of vertebrates such as fish, mammals, and people, and are connected through a tadpole-like link.
- They have evolutionary history going as back as 500 million years
Lineages – mainly 2 types
- Ascidiaceans –
- These are most occurring type and are commonly referred as sea squirts.
- In the beginning, these look like tadpoles and are mobile, which eventually developed to a barrel-shaped adult
- These mostly spent their adult life attached to the seafloor.
- Appendicularias –
- These look like tadpoles in both the phases of life- in the beginning and when they developed as adults.
- They are not attached to seafloor their whole life and can swim freely in the upper waters.
Significance of Tunicates
- Study of this species can expand our knowledge about evolutionary history of species.
- It contains a chemical compound Didemnins which may be useful against viral diseases, Cancer.
- Aplidine – is found effective for many types of cancer and trial are being conducted for ascertaining the efficacy against viral diseases like Covid-19.
- Trabectedin- This is also effective against many types of cancer.
- Tunicates, especially Ascidiaceans, are used as food and a part of many delicacies around the world
- They can be a potential biofuel source. Researches are underway.
Consider the following statements about Tunicates:
1. These are considered significant to understand the evolutionary history.
2. This species could be useful against various types of cancer.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2