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ScienceShot: Return of the Drakozoon!

5 August 2010 11:52 am
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Image Courtesy of Imperial College London

With its gooey exterior and roving tentacles, Drakozoon kalumon looks (and sounds) like it came out of a sci-fi movie. But this bloblike ocean dweller was actually one of Earth's earliest animals. Thanks to a 3D reconstruction created by slicing the rare fossil into 200 pieces and scanning them through a computer, scientists believe the 400-million-year-old creature sported a leathery exterior and a protective hood, which it probably used to hide its tentacles when predators were nearby. Drakozoon also had a segmented body, the researchers report online this week in Biology Letters, suggesting that the earliest animals were made of repeating units, like the present-day earthworm. This critter was only a little thicker than your thumbnail, however, so Hollywood may want to look elsewhere for its next movie monster.

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