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This amazing creature is the only survivor of 180 million years of evolution

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Jillian Castillo
Jillian Castillo
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Ophiojura are the remains of the ancestors of starfish, who lived during the time when dinosaurs took their first steps on Earth. This amazing specimen is found in the seamounts of New Caledonia, known for harboring unique animals.

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you know the Kulakanthi, and is often referred to as ” living fossil The latter is about 380 million years old, and still swims in the deep waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. But it now has a rival in Thing Longevity: A type of eight-headed starfish called ophiogora that lives off the coast of New Caledonia.

I understood at first glance that this animal was really special مميز

This strange creature was discovered in 2011 by a team from the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) from Paris during explorations Biodiversity New Caledonia submarine. Among the many Cash Discover during these expeditions strange brittle stars appeared, a class ofechinoderms considered as sea ​​star ancestor. « As an expert in deep sea fauna, I understood at first sightEye That this animal was really special when I first saw it in 2015 “,” confirms Tim O’Hara, a researcher at Museum Victoria in Australia, who just described this unique specimen in the magazine Proceedings of the Royal Society B. « Ophiojura is a completely unique type of animal and until then it had not been described وصفAnd the Researcher’s enthusiasm. It is the last known species of an ancient lineage that separated from its closest descendants, 180 million years ago, at that time dinosaurs They took their first steps on tr. »

coarse jaw with sharp teeth

In addition to the analysis adn Compared with other marine species, scientists have been able to confirm the ancient origin of aviogora by comparing it Morphology With other small fossils found in the rocks Jurassic in northern France and strongly resemble this specimen. Ophiojura is really unlike any other animal: Armed with eight arms each about 10 centimeters long and equipped with thorns and hooks, it also has a jaw brimming with sharp teeth that it undoubtedly uses to tear apart its prey, says Tim. O’Hara.

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Continuous development but very slow

« The term “living fossil” is often used to describe animals such as Ophiojura or coelacanth. In fact, this is not entirely true because no organism remains completely frozen for millions of years. they continue to evolve, Definitely in a very subtle way. The exact term for an ophygora might be rather that of an “archaic endemic” species: a representative of a branch that was once widespread and is today restricted to a very small area or to a single species.

Seamounts and biodiversity areas

These “ancient endemic” species are often found around sea ​​mountains, Old volcanoes It is located between 200 and 1000 meters in depth. ” Currents revolve around them, bringing Nutrients From the depths or besieged Plankton From the surface that nourishes the growth Amazing coral reefs, gorgonians and sponges. These in turn welcome many other deep-water animals المياه ‘, explains Tim O’Hara. Many unknown species remain to be discovered in these places, asserts the researcher, who is planning a 45-day expedition on an Australian research vessel this summer. This excursion will explore the seamounts around the Christmas Islands and Cocos Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, which have not been explored yet and date back 100 million years. ” Who knows what strange and wondrous treasures remain from the depths to be discovered ‘ Tim O’Hara concludes.

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