A group of scientists used 3D reconstruction to discover a new species of sea cucumber. The new species was revealed through a 430-million-year-old fossil.
The fossil was found exceptionally preserved, so scientists wasted no time and rendered a computer reconstruction of the animal. After the process, the creature was named Sollasina Cthulhu because of its close resemblance to the fictional Cthulhu universe created by author H.P. Lovecraft.
Tube Feet Tentacles
This exciting discovery was made through the efforts of an international panel of paleontologists led by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Also, Yale University, Imperial College London, University of Southern California, University of Leicester, and the University of Southern California all lent a hand in the discovery.
According to the researchers, the creature had multiple "tube feet" tentacles that it used to capture food and crawl over the seafloor. The rendering also showed an internal ring, the first-time discovery for this type of extinct creature, which scientists think is part of the water vascular system. It is a system of fluid-filled canals used for movement and feeding in living sea cucumbers and their relatives.
Sea Cucumber Family
"Sollasina belongs to an extinct group called the ophiocistioids, and this new material provides the first information on the group's internal structures," said Dr. Imran Rahman, lead author of the study and Deputy Head of Research at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
"This includes an inner ring-like form that has never been described in the group before. We interpret this as the first evidence of the soft parts of the water vascular system in ophiocistioids."
The fossil was actually only 3 centimeters wide, but researchers say that because of its very long tentacles, the creature looks monstrous and huge compared to other living sea creatures 430 million years ago.
The fossil was then integrated into a computer analysis demonstrating the evolutionary relationships of sea urchins and fossil sea cucumbers. The results revealed that the Sollasina is actually more related to sea cucumbers than sea urchins. Scientists claim it is a new piece of evidence supporting the evolutionary history of these creatures.
The findings of the study were published on Wednesday, April 10, in the online scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.