Researchers Discover Fossils of Cthulhu-Like Creature

11 Avril, 2019, 19:40 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • An image of Sollasinacthulhu showing how it would have looked on the seafloor.                  Elissa Martin Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Because of its many tentacles, the new organism was named Sollasina cthulhu, in honour of the monster from the works of Howard Lovecraft., according to the CNET portal.

Only about 3 cm wide, its many-tentacled "face" would have been intimidating to any other comparable sea life at the time as it used its many-tentacles to move around the sea-floor and capture food.

In a computer-generated model created from a 430 million-year-old fossil, scientists say they've identified a never-before-seen species of sea cucumber which they aptly dubbed, Sollasina cthulhu, after the iconic monster monster feature in H.P. Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulhu".

Palaeontologists from the United Kingdom and US created an accurate 3D computer reconstruction of the 430 million-year-old fossil which allowed them to identify it as a species new to science.

"This involved painstakingly grinding away the fossil, a few hundredths of a millimeter as a time, taking photographs of each exposed surface with a digital camera". The hundreds of sliced images are then stacked together to reveal a digitally reconstructed "virtual fossil". Not five or ten arms, mind you, but a full 45 individual limbs that scientists now believe it used to crawl across the ocean bottom in search of food and safety.

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With a body measure just more than an inch across, Sollasina cthulhu was not quite as fearsome. With this 3D reconstruction, the paleontologists were able to visualize an inner ring-like form inside the animal, which they interpreted as part of the system of fluid-filled canals used for feeding and moving in living sea cucumbers and their relatives.

A fossil of the creature, which belonged to a now extinct group called ophiocistioids, was uncovered from a fossil-rich site in the United Kingdom off the coast of Herefordshire.

The slices of the ancient cucumber - as well as the 3D reconstruction of its living form - are now being held at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The fact it exists demonstrates that the sea cucumber skeleton was modified gradually over many, many years.

The discovery was made by a team of worldwide palaeontologists, led by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, using a fossil discovered in a site in Herefordshire, UK.

The creature is a new echinoderm, which is a group that includes the sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and sea stars. "To our surprise, the results suggest it was an ancient sea cucumber", Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, Royal Society Newton International Fellow at University College London and study co-author, said in the University of Oxford press release.

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