In the first short story in which H. P. Lovecraft introduces the creature, the famed science fiction writer describes Cthulhu as: "A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind".
Researchers at Yale, Oxford, the University of Leicester, Imperial College London, and University College London have identified a 430 million-year-old fossil as a new species related to living sea cucumbers.
The site is known not just for its amount of ancient sea fossils but also for the surprising level of preservation observed in specimens uncovered there.
An worldwide team of researchers, including minds from Yale, Imperial College London, Oxford, and other institutions, have identified a new species of sea creature that crawled along the sea floor hundreds of millions of years ago.
"Using physical-optical tomography and computer reconstruction, we visualize the internal anatomy of S. cthulhu in three dimensions, revealing inner soft tissues that we interpret as the ring canal, a key part of the water vascular system that was previously unknown in fossil echinozoans", researchers wrote in the study's abstract.
The fossil was reconstructed by grinding the fossil down, one layer at a time, with photographs taken at every layer.
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Scientists believe it used these long limbs, or "tube feet", to capture food and crawl over the seafloor.
Palaeontologists have discovered the fossilised remains of a tentacled, spider-like sea creature now named "cthulhu". "This new species belongs to an extinct group called the ophiocistioids". The resulting hundreds of images are then digitally reconstructed until a "virtual fossil" is created.
The researchers said Sollasina's existence demonstrates that the sea cucumber skeleton was modified gradually during the assembly of its body plan.
The creature was related to modern sea creatures like sea cucumbers, urchins, and of course starfish, but it had some unique features that clearly set it apart.
The discovery was made by a team of global palaeontologists, led by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, using a fossil discovered in a site in Herefordshire, UK. "To our surprise, the results suggest it was an ancient sea cucumber", Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, Royal Society Newton International Fellow at University College London and study co-author, said in the University of Oxford press release.