Biologists think, the strange green thing seen on the 3D computer image was one of the earliest living creatures on the earth. The fossil was found in England and is probably more than 400 million years old.
The unique animal lived in the ocean approximately 425 million years ago and has been revealed for the first time today.
A 3D computer mode of a primitive Drakozoon has been created from the only known fossilised specimen of the creature.
The model will help researchers understand what primitive species on early Earth looked like and how they might have evolved into the types of creatures that are around today.
The Drakozoon specimen was found in the Herefordshire Lagerstätte, one of England’s richest deposits of soft-bodied fossils.
Drakozoon lived in the ocean during the Silurian Period, 444 to 416 million years ago, and today’s model hints at how it lived.
The research reveals that Drakozoon was a cone-shaped creature with a hood and it probably had a leathery exterior skin.
It appears to have survived in the ocean by attaching itself to hard surfaces such as rock.
It was approximately 3mm long, and used filament-bearing tentacles to catch and eat organic particles in seawater. It pulled its hood down over its body for protection against predators, pulling it back again to expose its tentacles when danger passed.
Some scientists think the creatures had repeated units, similar to a caterpillar with its many segments and legs, while others think that their bodies were structured in more free-form ways, similar to slugs.
The research was published today in the journal Biology Letters.
In today’s study, the researchers analysed their 3D model and discovered that Drakozoon had eight deep ridges on either side of its body.
They suggest that these deep ridges are the genetic remnants from a time when Drakozoon had a body made of repeated units, supporting the theory that the earliest creatures on Earth were also made of repeated units.
The researchers created their 3D model by physically slicing a fossil into 200 pieces. These pieces were individually photographed and the images were fed into a computer, which generated the 3D model.
The scientists say it is very rare to find ancient soft bodied creatures intact because they normally decompose before they can be preserved in sediment.
The soft bodied Drakozoon was perfectly preserved because it lived in an area that was covered in volcanic ash, following a volcanic eruption that instantly entombed it and other creatures living with it, keeping it intact for 425 million years.