425m-year-old blob-like ocean creature revealed in a 3-D model

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Washington, August 5 (ANI): Scientists have revealed a 3-D computer model of a unique blob-like creature that lived in the ocean approximately 425 million years ago.

The model is helping researchers to understand what primitive species on early Earth looked like and how they might have evolved.

The scientists from Imperial College London found the creature named Drakozoon 6 years ago in the Herefordshire Lagerstätte, one of England's richest deposits of soft-bodied fossils.

The researchers created their 3D model by physically slicing a fossil into 200 pieces. These pieces were individually photographed and the images were fed into a computer, which generated the 3D model for analysis by the scientists.

The research reveals that Drakozoon was a cone-shaped, blob-like creature with a hood and it probably had a leathery exterior skin.

Approximately 3mm long, it used filament-bearing tentacles to catch and eat organic particles in seawater.

It pulled its hood down over its body for protection against predators, pulling it back again to expose its tentacles when danger passed.

""Excitingly, our 3D model brings back to life a creature that until recently no one knew even existed, and provides us with a window into the life of Drakozoon," said Dr Mark Sutton.

The model revealed eight deep ridges on either side of Drakozoon's body - possibly genetic remnants from a time when Drakozoon had a body made of repeated units.

The study shows that Drakozoon was an early member of a major group of invertebrate species called lophophorates.

The research is published today in the journal Biology Letters. (ANI)

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