A sea slug with a body so big that it can stretch across a continent and weigh more than 1,000 kilograms (2,500 pounds) has made history by becoming the first to walk on land.
The sea slug’s new home is a rock on the island of Koh Samui in the Pacific Ocean, in what scientists call the largest terrestrial specimen ever found.
The creature was found on Koh Samu by a research team led by Prof John Haines from the University of Western Australia.
It is believed to be the first terrestrial fossil to walk the Earth.
The scientists say the slug’s remarkable size and body structure could be a result of a “branching” phenomenon in which the animal evolved to take in nutrients from the environment and grow larger and stronger as it grew, which enabled it to walk.
“Our model shows that this is not just a very rare instance of branched growth, but also that this animal had the ability to develop the capacity to move across continents and reach places we’ve never been before,” Prof HainES told ABC News.
Prof HainSays the creature could have walked on land for millions of years and that it would have been a giant and capable of walking on land even if it wasn’t.
“It was very different to any terrestrial vertebrate, it was a giant that was walking on three legs,” he said.
“We’ve never seen anything like it before.”
The research team, led by Dr John Hains from the Western Australian Museum, discovered the specimen in a remote location in the middle of the Pacific.
It took four months to return the specimen to Australia.
“This is a really remarkable find and a remarkable creature,” Dr Hains said.
The specimen was first discovered in the 1970s by a Japanese researcher named Toshiyuki Nishimura.
Dr Hains says he has been working with the creature since its discovery.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the fossil record of the oceanic crustaceans,” he told ABC Radio.
“What you find in the ocean is that it’s filled with some of the oldest fossils we have.”
These were a lot older than the fossils we find in Earth’s crust.
Prof J. R. Hains with a sea slug specimen.””
Chytrids are very similar to sea slugs in many ways, their shape, their structure, their distribution, their size,” Dr J.R. Hainles said.
Prof J. R. Hains with a sea slug specimen.
“In fact, the ocean’s crustacean is the most common animal on land.”
The scientists hope to identify more fossils of the species in the near future.
The species was discovered in Koh Samue, the largest island in the archipelago, but was previously unknown to science.
“There are lots of fossils of Chytraids and they are a big part of the fossil collection,” Dr R.H. said.
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