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Palaeontology

Bizarre 500-million-year-old creature found

By T.K. Randall
July 2, 2013 · Comment icon 5 comments

Image Credit: Andrew Smith / Youtube
The fossil remains of a strange prehistoric cigar-shaped creature have been discovered in Morocco.
Known as Helicocystis moroccoensis, the species was a primitive echinoderm, the same group of animals to which sea urchins and starfish belong. It is believed to be the first however to exhibit five-fold symmetry such as that seen in the arms of a starfish or the patterns on a sand dollar and was even capable of changing its body shape.

Fossils of the species were discovered in 2012 by palaeontologist Andrew Smith and colleagues while excavating in sediments from the Moroccan Anti-Atlas Mountains. Dating back 520 million years, the creatures would have lived on the giant prehistoric super-continent known as Gondwana.
H. moroccoensis, named after the country where it was found, had a cylindrical body that extended up to 1. 6 inches (4 centimeters) long. The echinoderm's mouth was on the top of its body, and it sported a cup made of checkered plates with a small stem at its base. It had a lattice-like skeleton made of calcite.


Source: Discovery News | Comments (5)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Chooky88 11 years ago
Another great example of life/evolution trying something completely different to fill a niche.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Xanthurion2 11 years ago
Looks like a monster from a video game. If it wasn't so tiny.
Comment icon #3 Posted by paperdyer 11 years ago
I could see this in Mario Bros.
Comment icon #4 Posted by dummy2b 11 years ago
Must be older than dirt
Comment icon #5 Posted by Device 11 years ago
Cool.


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