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Ancient fossil reveals that Cthulhu really did live on Earth 500 million years ago

Illustration for article titled Ancient fossil reveals that Cthulhu really did live on Earth 500 million years ago

About half a billion years ago during the Cambrian period, in the early years of multicellular life on Earth, there existed a creature out of our nightmares. A scaly arthropod, distantly related to today's lobsters and spiders, Fuxianhuia crawled along the ocean floor with those insane-looking tentacle legs. Those limbs may also have been involved in eating.

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The authors of a new paper in Nature believe that Fuxianhuia may have been one of the first creatures to develop legs, and it had a lot of them. Those big front legs are just the beginning — it also had a ton of hind legs that almost look centipede-like. The fossils described in this paper offer our first view of the legs of the creature.

Illustration for article titled Ancient fossil reveals that Cthulhu really did live on Earth 500 million years ago
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Illustration for article titled Ancient fossil reveals that Cthulhu really did live on Earth 500 million years ago

Here is what most fossils of this arthropod look like — you can see the outer carapace but not the feeding tentacles. Last year, this fossil and a few others helped scientists to identify this creature as one of the first that may have had a brain, or a complex nervous system that extended beyond its head.

Read the full scientific article in Nature.

Top image via Yie Jang; second via Nature; third via Xiaoya Ma

Thanks for the tip, ErasmusSB654!

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