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Scientists Discover 155-Million-Year-Old Self-Cloning Starfish


An amazing finding has been made by scientists: a creature that lived 155 million years ago and was capable of self-replication. A study on the discovery stated that the creature, which resembled a starfish, had six arms and the ability to regenerate its body. According to Science Alert, the unique fossil was discovered in 2018 while excavating a limestone deposit in Germany. The deposit was formerly a deep lagoon with sponge beds and coral meadows. This is the sole specimen of the newly discovered brittle star species, Ophiactis hex, according to the researchers.


Through clonal fragmentation, the organism was able to generate genetically identical progeny by fracturing and regrowing segments of its own body, a process known as fissiparity.

“While the biology and ecology of clonal fragmentation are comparatively well understood, virtually nothing is known about the evolution and geological history of that phenomenon,” Dr Ben Thuy, a palaeontologist at Luxembourg’s Musee national d’histoire naturelle, wrote in the new paper describing the discovery.

It is noteworthy because the precise moment at which fissiparity evolved for the first time is unknown to scientists.

The fossil, which dates back 155 million years, is so well preserved that the hook-shaped arm spines are all visible. It was given that name in honor of the fantastical supercomputer that can think the unthinkable, found in one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books.

“While skeletons of ophiuroids with individual arms frozen in the process of regeneration are relatively common in the fossil record, cases of individuals with a regenerating body half are exceedingly rare,” Dr Thuy and his team said in the study.

“To the best of our knowledge, the specimen described in the present paper is only the second case known so far, and the first one for which regeneration seems indeed linked to six-fold symmetry and clonal fragmentation,” they further said.

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