Fossilised remains of ‘Cthulhu’ creature that stalked the seas 430MILLION years ago found in Herefordshire

0
49


THE REMAINS of an ancient sea creature that lurked at the bottom of the ocean millions of years ago have been found in Britain.

It has been named Cthulhu by boffins because its many flailing tentacles resemble the deadly arms of the infamous fictional sea beast.

Artist’s impression of the newly discovered sea creature
Elissa Martin, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

However, the animal – known as Sollasina cthulhu – was far less destructive than its namesake.

It was a tiny type of sea cucumber, the group that includes the placid modern sea pig and its relatives.

Scientists say the discovery could shed new light on the early evolution of the sea cucumber, which have lived in our oceans for hundreds of millions of years.

They dug up the fossilised remains in Herefordshire and were baffled as to what they’d found.

A 3D reconstruction of Sollasina cthulhu. Tube feet are shown in different colours
Imran Rahman/Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Dating back 430million years, it lived during a time when what is now Britain was covered in water.

The fossilised creature had 45 tentacles, branching out from a central body covered in armour plates.

Its many arms helped it crawl around the seafloor, where it spent the vast majority of its time.

It also used them to move food into its mouth, with its diet likely consisting of algae and other tiny microorganisms – just like modern sea cucumbers.

At just 3cm wide, Sollasina was hardly an intimidating beast, but it’s helping scientists work out the evolutionary tree of Earth’s ancient oceans.

“We carried out a number of analyses to work out whether Sollasina was more closely related to sea cucumbers or sea urchins,” said University College London scientist Dr Jeffrey Thompson.

“To our surprise, the results suggest it was an ancient sea cucumber. This helps us understand the changes that occurred during the early evolution of the group, which ultimately gave rise to the slug-like forms we see today.”

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


If you enjoyed this story, you might also like these:

World’s oldest animal revealed by ancient FAT from 558million year old Russian fossil.

‘Marsupial lion’ mystery SOLVED as first complete skeleton reveals what extinct Australian creature looked like.

What do you think boffins will find lurking in our oceans next? Let us know in the comments!


We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at tips@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 782 4368 . We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here