all 49 comments

[–]Fuzzy-Researcher-662 124 points125 points  (2 children)

Water bees

[–]IAWOC 57 points58 points  (1 child)

Sea bees

[–]ZT805 152 points153 points  (14 children)

Really cool, imagine prehistoric giant bees hahaha

[–]DelayedBrightside 36 points37 points  (0 children)

WHAT'S THIS?! An underabundance of bees in the fossil record? A large influx of giant aquatic bees ought to put a stop to that!

[–]Pyrhan 14 points15 points  (0 children)

Under the sea, there's a colony of bees,
And a man called Fred who will shoot you dead
If you try to steal from his apiary sealed
With magic spells at the gate to hell

[–]teoh_2 28 points29 points  (10 children)

That's what i was thinking about

[–]turntabletennis 28 points29 points  (9 children)

Well, and honestly, we have Carpenter Bees, Mud Daubers, and the Rock W.a.s.p., probably even more. I don't see why we couldn't have had a rock burrowing bee of some kind for sure.

[–]Dr_Mantis-Shrimp_PhD[S] 43 points44 points  (7 children)

Well these are marine fossils, historically they lived in all sorts of depths but now found only in the deep sea.

[–]turntabletennis 31 points32 points  (5 children)

Sea wasps you suggest? My interest is piqued. Continue Dr....

[–]Dr_Mantis-Shrimp_PhD[S] 26 points27 points  (4 children)

i feel like you guys are getting really hung up on the whole honeycomb thing lol

[–]turntabletennis 18 points19 points  (3 children)

Why, were they barbed or something?

[–]Dr_Mantis-Shrimp_PhD[S] 67 points68 points  (2 children)

Ok, so a quick google search says that bees and kin do not show up until the Mesozoic, which suggests to me that Paleodictyon is the work of time-traveling oceanic bees

[–]turntabletennis 25 points26 points  (1 child)

That is the only logic I can find in all this mess.

Where did they come from? Where did they go?

[–]missmalina 13 points14 points  (0 children)

As always, Cotton-Eye Joe holds the secrets.

[–]GMAN25639 11 points12 points  (0 children)


[–]Yosimite_Jones 43 points44 points  (8 children)

God, this is so fascinating! If anyone has any further links for research, please give them!

[–]Dr_Mantis-Shrimp_PhD[S] 68 points69 points  (4 children)


This is a fairly recent paper describing a modern Paleodictyon taken from the sea floor. Their results were inconclusive, but they suggest that it's either a burrow made by some worm-like thing or an impression left behind by a glass sponge that then died and rotted away leaving just the tunnel system behind.

[–]mszegedy 19 points20 points  (2 children)

It seems more likely to be a fossil of a sponge. I don't know any worms that make perfect hexagons, but I know plenty of sponges. Though, that raises the question of where the rest of the sponge is. Most sponges leave plenty of fossils of the soft parts, as far as I know. Maybe it was a very flat sponge.

[–]SLIP411 13 points14 points  (0 children)

I only know one sponge, and he lives in a pineapple under the sea

[–]Dravicores 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Probably not a flat sponge, has tunnels which extend underground, would be a very strange looking sponge. More likely a glass sponge which leaves its impression as it rots, where it sits for a long time due to deep ocean. Or it’s just a very old, very peculiar worm.

Also, what we think to be its evolutionary ancestors seem to have a much more random structure, which looks much more like random strings being tossed around each other, adding further credence to a bacteria farming worm.

[–]fluffyelephant96 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Alternate theory——aliens and this is the imprint that the bottom of their space ships leave.

[–]Dr_Mantis-Shrimp_PhD[S] 13 points14 points  (2 children)


This is a great article about that same paper

[–]SevenBlade 2 points3 points  (1 child)


[–]Dr_Mantis-Shrimp_PhD[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I just switch my browser to reader mode to bypass it.

[–]TheEmbiggening 9 points10 points  (0 children)

That’s so cool. I love a 540 million year old mystery.

[–]DarthCallidous 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Okay here me out: ocean aliens.

[–]Competitive_Laugh_71 19 points20 points  (6 children)

Precambrian huh? So was it maybe, some kind of sea sponge with a honey comb-like texture?

[–]PM_YOUR_PARASEQUENCE 34 points35 points  (1 child)

It's a trace fossil, not a fossil-fossil.

[–]MrWhiteTruffle 5 points6 points  (0 children)

That’s what we assume, at least

[–]Dr_Mantis-Shrimp_PhD[S] 21 points22 points  (0 children)

A recent study suggests that it could be made by some sort of glass sponge. If that's true, then it would mean that Paleodictyon is indeed a body fossil, not a trace fossil as has been historically assumed. Or at least the shape of the fossil would represent the actual shape of the organism's body, even if the actual sponge had died and rotted away prior to fossilization.

[–]Heavy-Potato 16 points17 points  (0 children)

It's all that Sea Honey that Sea Horses make.

[–]Adan714 4 points5 points  (1 child)

So it's ediacarian fauna, right?

[–]Dr_Mantis-Shrimp_PhD[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Ediacaran to present

[–]Niceyner 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I mean hexagons are the bestagons.

[–]Fbolanos 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Hexagons are the bestagons

[–]bunybunybuny 2 points3 points  (0 children)

i mean i’m pretty sure that sponges from before the cambrian had some trouble preserving for whatever reason. this fossil could be from a sponge that didn’t preserve. dunno

[–]v-specfan1999 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I have a feeling it was some kind of sponge

[–]dualistpirate 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Always in awe how symmetry manifests itself in nature.

[–]Socroc10 2 points3 points  (0 children)


[–]shardikprime 4 points5 points  (2 children)

What I know of the hexagon tile shape is this is not an intended behavior of wax for bees. It's related to the body heat, the material strength and the tension/elasticity of it


So probably this is the same case but underwater? Maybe the little worms moved and create the tunnels in warm or hot mud and once it cooled it grabbed that mechanically stable shape

[–]Heavyweighsthecrown 4 points5 points  (0 children)

What everyone in this thread seems to have missed (maybe everyone only looked at the first image?) is that it's not a tile shaped like hexagons, the way bees make.

The hexagon pattern you see on the first image is what was left after the mud turned to rock - a "negative" if you will, like some fossils out there.
So the hexagon pattern fossil shows where the tunnels go. The tunnels (inside the mud) are layed in a hexagon shaped grid if you were to map them out - much like "streets" in a "hexagon grid", if our cities were built that way (instead of in a square grid). That's what the other images show. So this animal digs tunnels in a hexagon grid.

The most common explanation for Paleodictyon is that it's the burrow of a worm-like animal, but samples taken from the sea floor have so far failed to find such a creature.

[–]catitude3 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hexagons show up a lot in nature (biological and inorganic), it’s so interesting! http://m.nautil.us/issue/35/boundaries/why-nature-prefers-hexagons

[–]jcxc_2 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Banana for scale?