Science News reports that like sea stars, ancient echinoderms used to eat, breathe and scuttle around the seafloor with tiny tube feet. Scientists suspected that the ancient marine invertebrates, called edrioasteroids, had tube feet. A set of unusually well-preserved fossils from around 430 million year ago–described September 13 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B–provides proof of this.
Colin Sumrall, UT professor of earth and planetary sciences with a focus on paleobiology, said usually when an echinoderm dies, “the tube feet are the first things that go.”
Sumrall isn’t surprised that this edrioasteroid had tube feet. “It’s exactly what we would have expected,” he says. But all other preserved tube feet to date come from classes of echinoderms that still have living relatives today. Edrioasteroids are less closely related to modern echinoderms, so this find broadens the range of species that scientists know sported the structures. Read the full story online.