Introducing the Skeleton Panda Sea Squirt

Given the scientific name Clavelina ossipandae, scientists discovered that it was a new species of sea squirt after divers posted images of it online. Naohiro Hasegawa, a researcher at Hokkaido University and co-author of the study that first described the species in the journal Species Diversity, told Reuters: “The white parts that look like bones are the blood vessels that run horizontally through the sea squirts’ gills. The black parts on the head that look like a panda’s eyes and nose are just a pattern, and we don’t really know why the pattern is there.” 

Origins of vertebrates may be pushed back by 500-million-year-old sea squirt fossil

In 2019, paleontologist Karma Nanglu from Harvard University received a finger-sized fossil. The specimen had originated from a fossil-rich stratum of Cambrian limestone in western Utah, and had been kept in a drawer at a Salt Lake City museum for years.

Upon hearing that there could be a very old tunicate, Nanglu expressed excitement interlaced with caution: "That's a group for which there is essentially no fossil record for the entire 500 million years of recorded history."