'Walking cactus' rewrites arthropod odyssey

Feb 23, 2011
Image credit: Mingguang Chi

Fossils of a bizarre animal dubbed the "walking cactus" have shed light on the evolution of crabs and spiders, Chinese researchers reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

Specimens found in 2006 in rocks in the Jianshan area near Haikou, in southwestern China's Yunnan province, have revealed an "armoured lobopodian" that lived nearly half a billion years ago.

This was during the so-called Cambrian Explosion, an astonishing burst of that determined the future of species which are alive today.

Measuring around six centimetres (2.4 inches) long, it comprises a central spine that resembles a skinny, soft-bodied worm, from which 10 pairs of spiny and apparently jointed limbs emerge.

The paper suggests the primitive critter is the closest-known relative to modern arthropods.

Its finding boosts theories that arthropods derive from ancestors whose legs developed a tough external skeleton before their bodies did.

The species has been dubbed Diania cactiformis. "Dian" is a linguistic derivation in Chinese of Yunnan while "cactiformis" refers to cactus-like shapes.

Explore further: Radar search to find lost Aboriginal burial site

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New 150 million-year-old crab species discovered

Oct 17, 2007

Researchers from Kent State University and the University of Bucharest, Romania, have discovered a new primitive crab species Cycloprosopon dobrogea in eastern Romania. Previously unexamined, these ancient crabs from the ...

Origin of claws seen in 390-million-year-old fossil

Feb 05, 2009

A missing link in the evolution of the front claw of living scorpions and horseshoe crabs was identified with the discovery of a 390 million-year-old fossil by researchers at Yale and the University of Bonn, ...

Chinese report important fish fossil find

May 05, 2006

Chinese researchers say a newly discovered fish species that lived more than 400 million years ago may represent a bridge between two vertebrate lineages.

Fossil find fills in picture of ancient marine life

May 13, 2010

Paleontologists have discovered a rich array of exceptionally preserved fossils of marine animals that lived between 480 million and 472 million years ago, during the early part of a period known as the Ordovician. ...

Prehistoric bird fossil found in China

Dec 15, 2005

The fossil of a previously unknown water bird that lived some 125 million years ago has been found in sandstone near Inner Mongolia in northeast China.

Recommended for you

Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

5 hours ago

(AP)—For the first time in more than 30 years, paleontologists are preparing excavate a sinkhole-type cave in northern Wyoming that contains the ancient remains of tens of thousands of animals.

Radar search to find lost Aboriginal burial site

Jul 22, 2014

Scientists said Tuesday they hope that radar technology will help them find a century-old Aboriginal burial ground on an Australian island, bringing some closure to the local indigenous population.

Archaeologists excavate NY Colonial battleground

Jul 19, 2014

Archaeologists are excavating an 18th-century battleground in upstate New York that was the site of a desperate stand by Colonial American troops, the flashpoint of an infamous massacre and the location of the era's largest ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

that_guy
4 / 5 (6) Feb 23, 2011
This will be my first animal in my cambrian themed park. If it escapes, it can be stepped on.
alexcampbell
1 / 5 (8) Feb 24, 2011
This was during the so-called Cambrian Explosion, an astonishing burst of biodiversity that determined the future of species which are alive today.
====================================================
Parking Sensors
alexcampbell
1 / 5 (6) Feb 24, 2011
This was during the so-called Cambrian Explosion, an astonishing burst of biodiversity that determined the future of species which are alive today.
====================================================
Parking Sensors
that_guy
5 / 5 (2) Feb 24, 2011
This was during the so-called Cambrian Explosion, an astonishing burst of biodiversity that determined the future of species which are alive today.

Yes, most of us were aware of that before the article told us that again, and then you, a third time. What are you, a parrot?
Moebius
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 24, 2011
Looks like a prime candidate for mistaken identity and it isn't an animal.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (3) Feb 24, 2011
@Moebius, i was thinking the same thing, how reliable are these chinese researchers?
zslewis91
3 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2011
@kaasinees
@moebius
..............retards..