It’s a real-life version of one of the most feared monsters in horror fiction... only smaller. A lot smaller.
On Wednesday, an international team of researchers unveiled the fossilized remains of an ancient relative of the sea cucumber. It had 45 tentacles and lurked at the bottom of the seas some 430 million years ago.
Unlike the massive Cthulhu of fiction, the creature unveiled by scientists this week was quite tiny, with the fossil measuring just about an inch across.
However, the researchers said those 45 “tube feet” extended out in every direction and would make it seem much larger as it sat on the ocean floor, perhaps waiting and dreaming.
“Sollasina belongs to an extinct group called the ophiocistioids, and this new material provides the first information on the group’s internal structures,” lead author Imran Rahman of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History said in a news release.
Despite its diminutive size, the creature still managed to pack a lot of nightmare fuel. Those 45 tentacles were used to snatch up food, creep along the ocean floor and scare off predators.
Oh, and those “tubes” also had their own armor.
“The tube feet of living echinoderms are naked, but in the ophiocistioids they were plated,” Yale paleontologist Derek Briggs, a co-author of the study, said in a news release. “Our analysis strongly suggests that ophiocistioids diverged from the line leading to modern sea cucumbers.”