Bizarre Ancient Sea Creature Is Dubbed Sollasina Cthulhu

The weird sea creature you see here was recently discovered as an ancient fossil and is a species related to modern sea cucumbers. The team of researchers that discovered the 430 million-year-old fossil are from Yale, Oxford, the University of Leicester, Imperial College London, and University College London. They have dubbed the bizarre creature Sollasina cthulhu.

The creature had 45 tentacle-like tube feet that it used to crawl along the floor of the ocean and capture food. The creature was very small said to be about the size of a large spider. The fossil was discovered in Herefordshire Lagerstatte in the UK, that particular site is a trove of ancient sea animal fossils.

The creature is a new echinoderm, which is a group that includes the sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and sea stars. All of those creatures have soft tissue preservation. Specifically, the extinct creature seen in the fossil is part of an extinct group called ophiocistioids.

The team used high-resolution physical-optical tomography on the fossil to reveal internal elements of the water vasculature system that were previously unknown in the sample. To achieve the 3D reconstruction, the team had to grind a layer of the fossil away and take photos of each stage. The water vascular system inside cthuluh is more closely related to sea cucumbers than sea urchins says the researchers.

The team says that the research shows that ophiocistiodis diverged from the line leading to modern sea cucumbers. Living echinoderms have feet that are naked, in ophiocistioids the feet are plated. In the fossil creature, the water vascular system operated the tentacle-like structures used for locomotion and food capture.