A team of international paleontologists from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History has discovered a new species of ancient sea cucumber. They have used a 430-million-year fossil found from a site in Herefordshire, Uk. and created a 3D computer reconstruction of the creature. They reconstructed the image of the creature with tentacles and named it Sollasinacthulhu.
The scientists have recreated the creature via 3D renders by using thin layers taken from the destroyed fossil, and by taking individual pictures at each stage. In this way, they had managed to create a virtual fossil. The same technique is used for reconstructing animals in 3D. The sea cucumber had numerous “tube feet” tentacles, which help it to crawl over the seafloor and to capture food.
3D renders revealed more about Sollasinacthulhu, the new Sea Cucumber species that researchers found
Moreover, in the 3D renders, the team discovered for the first time at this kind of creatures, an internal ring. It is believed that the internal ring was formed as part of the vascular system of fluid-filled canals. The existence of this vascular system is placing the creature closer to the sea cucumbers than sea urchins. In echinoderms, this circular tube of the vascular system also moves water through their bodies and allows the creature to move hydraulically and not by using their muscles.
However, the dimensions of Sollasinacthulhu fossil from the Silurian period are only 3 cm wide, almost over 1 inch. But because of the many, long tentacles, the sea cucumber may have looked like a terrifying sea monster to other sea creature at that time, especially the small ones. Also, the body of a cucumber isn’t armored, but soft and squishy. The scientists guess that maybe ophiocistioids branched away from the lineage. So this is the reason why the sea cucumbers today are looking different today.
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