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July 1 2013

Bizarre 500-Million-Year-Old Creature Unearthed


A new fossilized, cigar-shaped creature that lived about 520 million years ago has been unearthed in Morocco.

The new-found species, Helicocystis moroccoensis, has "characteristics that place it as the most primitive echinoderm that has fivefold symmetry," said study co-author Andrew Smith, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, referring to the group of animals that includes starfish and sea urchins. Modern echinoderms typically have five-point symmetry, such as the five arms of the starfish or the sand dollar's distinctive pattern.

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