|The hydroid fossil from the Llanfawr Quarry|
X ray analysis revealed the presence of a complete and remarkably well preserved solitary hydroid. What makes this discovery so important is the revelation of a whole new ecosystem. Other fossils including sponges, worms, nautiloids and crinoids showed that the hydroid was from a deep sea community.
'They were found in Llanfawr quarry, an area well-known for its fossils, but somehow the important fossils had been missed', said Dr Muir. 'It's not a discovery that you can point to and say, this proves such-and-such' said Dr Muir. 'Rather, it's a question of adding a large new chunk of knowledge, and in turn suggesting that there are many more chunks left to find. This type of ecological community type was simply unknown from rocks this old, and for it to suddenly appear makes palaeontologists wonder what else they've been missing.
It shows us that Ordovician ecosystems were even more diverse and complicated than we imagined. Using geological evidence, the team came to the conclusion that the whole of Llandrindod area was once an ocean dotted by a series of volcanic island arc chains. The fine ash from the eruptions would have buried the deep sea organisms, preserving them in perfect detail. This type of preservation is very similar to that shown in the remarkable Charnia fossils from Mistaken Point.