Fossil of a 430 million year old sea creature, named after the myths of Lovecraft's Cthulhu




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The interpretation of an artist of Sollasina Cthulhu, a new fossil species named for H.P. The mythical creature of Lovecraft Cthulhu.

Elissa Martin, Yale Peabody Natural History Museum

An exceptionally preserved fossil of a 430 million year old tentacle sea creature reminded an international team of paleontologists of both the description given by the American science fiction and horror author H.P. Lovecraft of his creature Cthulhu (pronounced "kuh-THOO-loo"), that they named the new species they described in a recently published scientific article as Sollasina Cthulhu. Lovecraft introduced Cthulhu, a strange tentacle monster of unknown origin resting at the bottom of the sea, in his brief history of 1926 The call of Cthulhu, where he describes it as, "a monster with a vaguely anthropoid profile, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mbad of probes, a scaly body with a rubbery appearance, prodigious claws on the hind and front feet, and long wings. narrow behind. " The anatomical features reconstructed in 3D by paleontologists reveal that Sollasina It belongs to the opiocistioidea, a clbad of extinct echinoderms of the Paleozoic and early Mesozoic, more closely related to the modern ones. sea ​​cucumbers. The skin of echinoderms, including sea cucumbers, sea urchins, crinoids, fragile stars and starfish, is covered by tiny ossicles made of calcium carbonate that form a protective but flexible outer shell. Some existing species still retain relatively large plates and also the body of the extinct three-centimeter (1.1-inch) species & nbsp; It was covered completely with bony plates, which gave the animal a "scaly, rubbery" look. Sollasina It also had 45 tentacles, another typical feature of the echinoderms, which branch off from a central body. The many tentacles reminded the authors of "the mbad of probes" that supposedly surrounded Cthulhu's mouth. However, unlike Cthulhu, the tentacles of Sollasina they were not used to swallow human souls, but probably helped the animal to crawl through the sea floor of the old Herefordshire, now part of the United Kingdom, as well as to pbad the food to the mouth in the center of the body.

A sketch of Cthulhu drawn by its creator, H. P. Lovecraft.

Public domain

As Lovecraft inspired the authors of the discovery, the fossils inspired some elements in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Cthulhu occupies a prominent place only in the short history of Call of CthulhuHowever, Lovecraft makes some references to the creature in his later works. In the mountains of madness It is a science fiction / horror story published by Lovecraft in 1936. In the story, narrated in the first person by the geologist William Dyer, one of the few survivors of an expedition to Antarctica, it is suggested that fossil remains of ancient and Monstrous creatures were found.

The hollow layer was no more than seven or eight feet deep, but it extended indefinitely in all directions and had a fresh, slightly mobile air that suggested it belonged to an extensive underground system. Its roof and floor were abundantly equipped with large stalactites and stalagmites, some of which met in column form: but above all, the vast deposit of shells and bones was important, which almost drowned in places.

Later, the expedition discovers older fossils in sedimentary layers of 500 million years. Lovecraft apparently based this part on the real discovery of fossil archaeoatids in Antarctica made in 1920 by geologist William Thomas Gordon. Archaeatids are an extinct group of sponge-like creatures that are believed to be among the oldest animals that have ever lived on Earth. According to the geological knowledge of the Lovecraft era, there was no superior life on Earth 500 million years ago. However, Dyer's expedition discovers the footprints of highly evolved creatures among primitive fossils. They can not be identified and do not appear to be from this Earth, however, they show some similarities with echinoderms, such as a hard skin and a radially symmetrical body.

Found a monstrous barrel-shaped fossil of a totally unknown nature; Probably vegetable, unless it is too large a specimen of unknown marine radiata. Fabric evidently preserved by mineral salts. Resistant as leather, but with surprising flexibility retained in some places.

Lovecraft refers to creatures only as Ancient Things. Like the terrifying Cthulhu, the Ancient Things predate the human race for millions of years. Lovecraft also suggests in his stories the possibility that his creatures are not yet dead, just sleep underground, waiting for some day to be discovered by paleontologists.

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The interpretation of an artist of Sollasina Cthulhu, a new fossil species named for H.P. The mythical creature of Lovecraft Cthulhu.

Elissa Martin, Yale Peabody Natural History Museum

An exceptionally preserved fossil of a 430 million year old tentacle sea creature reminded an international team of paleontologists of both the description given by the American science fiction and horror author H.P. Lovecraft of his creature Cthulhu (pronounced "kuh-THOO-loo"), who named the new species they described in a recently published scientific article as Sollasina Cthulhu. Lovecraft introduced Cthulhu, a strange tentacle monster of unknown origin resting at the bottom of the sea, in his brief history of 1926 The call of Cthulhu, where he describes it as, "a monster with a vaguely anthropoid contour, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mbad of probes, a scaly body with a gummy appearance, prodigious claws on the front and hind legs, and long, narrow ones. wings behind ". The anatomical features reconstructed in 3D by paleontologists reveal that Sollasina belongs to the opiocistioidea, a clbad of extinct echinoderms of the Paleozoic and early Mesozoic, more closely related to modern sea cucumbers. The skin of echinoderms, including sea cucumbers, sea urchins, crinoids, fragile stars and starfish, is covered by tiny ossicles made of calcium carbonate that form a protective but flexible outer shell. Some existing species still retain relatively large plates and also the three-centimeter (1.1-inch) body of the extinct species was completely covered with bony plates, which gives the animal a "scaly and rubbery" appearance. Sollasina It also had 45 tentacles, another typical feature of the echinoderms, which branch off from a central body. The many tentacles reminded the authors of "the mbad of probes" that supposedly surrounded Cthulhu's mouth. However, unlike Cthulhu, the tentacles of Sollasina they were not used to swallow human souls, but probably helped the animal to crawl through the sea floor of the old Herefordshire, now part of the United Kingdom, as well as to pbad the food to the mouth in the center of the body.

A sketch of Cthulhu drawn by its creator, H. P. Lovecraft.

Public domain

As Lovecraft inspired the authors of the discovery, the fossils inspired some elements in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Cthulhu occupies a prominent place only in the short history of Call of CthulhuHowever, Lovecraft makes some references to the creature in his later works. In the mountains of madness It is a science fiction / horror story published by Lovecraft in 1936. In the story, narrated in the first person by the geologist William Dyer, one of the few survivors of an expedition to Antarctica, it is suggested that fossil remains of ancient and Monstrous creatures were found.

The hollow layer was no more than seven or eight feet deep, but it extended indefinitely in all directions and had a fresh, slightly mobile air that suggested it belonged to an extensive underground system. Its roof and floor were abundantly equipped with large stalactites and stalagmites, some of which met in column form: but above all, the vast deposit of shells and bones was important, which almost drowned in places.

Later, the expedition discovers older fossils in sedimentary layers of 500 million years. Lovecraft apparently based this part on the real discovery of fossil archaeoatids in Antarctica made in 1920 by geologist William Thomas Gordon. Archaeatids are an extinct group of sponge-like creatures that are believed to be among the oldest animals that have ever lived on Earth. According to the geological knowledge of the Lovecraft era, there was no superior life on Earth 500 million years ago. However, Dyer's expedition discovers the footprints of highly evolved creatures among primitive fossils. They can not be identified and do not appear to be from this Earth, however, they show some similarities with echinoderms, such as a hard skin and a radially symmetrical body.

Found a monstrous barrel-shaped fossil of a totally unknown nature; Probably vegetable, unless it is too large a specimen of unknown marine radiata. Fabric evidently preserved by mineral salts. Resistant as leather, but with surprising flexibility retained in some places.

Lovecraft refers to creatures only as Ancient Things. Like the terrifying Cthulhu, the Ancient Things predate the human race for millions of years. Lovecraft also suggests in his stories the possibility that his creatures are not yet dead, just sleep underground, waiting for some day to be discovered by paleontologists.


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