Monday, November 10, 2008

Flinders Ranges creature had eight arms

Flinders Ranges creature had eight arms - Science - Specials -

WHEN Jim Gehling first came across fossils of a strange, eight-armed creature in ancient rocks in the Flinders Ranges he was astonished.

Researchers had been combing these famous hills for 50 years, cataloguing evidence of the earliest known animals on Earth - soft-bodied sea creatures called the Ediacara biota that lived about 550 million years ago.

"We thought that by now we had found most of the different kinds of Ediacara fossils that existed," said Dr Gehling, of the South Australian Museum.

But not only was the extinct eight-armed creature, with its dome-shaped body, new to science, it was also unusual among all lifeforms: "Creatures with eight-fold symmetry are rare."

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