The mystery of the strange tully monster

Shutterstock.com/ Dotted Yeti

If you want to tell tales to scare your children at bedtime there is plenty to choose from. Instead of something fictional like the Loch Ness monster or Freddy Kruger (am I the only one who tells my kids stories about Freddy?) why not tell them scary stories about something that actually exists, or at least existed once. Ask your kids if they have ever heard of the terrifying Tully monster?

The Tully monster is a mystery that has been around since its first discovery in 1958. Then Francis Tully discovered some fossils in the coal mining pits of northeastern Illinois. The fossils revealed an animal the likes of which had never been found before. The fossils date back 300 million years and suggest a very strange creature.

From what the fossils tell us it is believed to be an animal that lived in the water. It had fins like a cuttlefish and a thick body. Above its head was a stiff thin bar with eyes on either side and out of its head came a long trunk with its mouth at the end. The mouth was full of razor-sharp teeth.

This strange monster doesn’t fit into any clear classification and so has confused all of those who have researched it. In 2016 some Yale scientists said it was a vertebrate. In 2017 the University of Pennslyvania had a go and said it was probably an invertebrate. One thing they agreed though was that it was definitely not a fish.

The scientists are extremely puzzled and say that these extreme outliers can really throw their evolutionary tracks wide open. If they have taken a single misstep then they would find some animal that doesn’t fit their current world view. This could be that animal.

Interestingly there have been thousands of Tully monster fossils found over the years however they have all been found at the same place, the coal mines of Illinois. As a natural skeptic that makes me a little wary that there is a hoax taking place but the scientists don’t seem to think so. They say it shows that this animal had a single habitat.

A hoax is rather unlikely unless it was a hoax that was put in place 300 million years ago. As there were no dinosaurs at this time and humans weren’t even on the production list yet, it is unlikely someone was able to put a hoax in place. The scientists have also used every available technology on the fossils to gather as much information as possible. Synchroton element mapping is the leading technology used at present as it allowed scientists to illuminate the animal’s physical features making a proper mapping of the animal possible.

Illinois has since fallen in love with the Tully monster, declaring it the official fossil of the state. While it is impossible to figure out anything about this strange animal scientists are willing to hazard a guess that it was a predator. It’s large teeth and eyes suggest that it was on the lookout for prey and had the teeth to do damage.

At this point, we are sure that this strange and frightening creature is plenty to scare your children. Imagine telling them that its eyes are so wide that there is no escaping its gaze. Its trunk so long that it will probe any hiding space and find you where ever you go. Its teeth are so sharp that it can penetrate your skin with ease. Just don’t tell your kids that the fossils show it was only one foot tall and likely would be no threat to people if it was alive today. Leave that part to their imagination.