The Drakozoon Was a Blob-like Creature That Lived 425 Million Years Ago

Posted on May 29, 2011

Drakozoon


The Drakozoon was a unique blob-like creature that lived 425 million years ago. Last year scientists from the Imperial College London developed a 3D model of the only known fossilized specimen of the Drakozoon. The fossil was a very rare find as ancient soft bodied creatures normally decompose in soft sediment. This specimen was preserved because it was entombed in volcanic ash. It is likely there were more soft bodied ancient creatures like the Drakozoon, but without the fossil evidence we will never know.

The small 3mm long creature was cone-shaped and blob-like. The researchers believe it had a leathery exterior skin. It used tentacles to catch and consume organic particles in the seawater. It could pull its protective hood down to shield itself from predators.

Dr Mark Sutton, from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says, "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. We think this tiny blob of jelly survived by clinging onto rocks and hard shelled creatures, making a living by plucking microscopic morsels out of seawater. By looking at this primitive creature, we also get one tantalising step closer to understanding what the earliest creatures on Earth looked like."

The researchers created their 3D model by physically slicing the fossil into 200 pieces. The pieces were then individually photographed and fed into a computer to generate the 3D model. Take a look:



The study was published in the journal Biology Letters and the research was funded by Natural Environment Research Council.

Photo: Imperial College London