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Scientists believe kinos and arthropods should have evolved more than 540 million years ago. rarus has a number of similarities with living kinorhynchs, suggesting a close evolutionary relationship. rarus and living, modern kinorhynchs include their hollow spines arranged in a five-fold symmetry and their body segments each consisting of articulated plates. rarus differs from modern species with more numerous segments. There are approximately 240 living kinorhynch species, all found in marine environments.
Dubbed Eokinorhynchus rarus – or rare ancient mud dragon, the newly discovered animal dates back from the Cambrian period and contains five pairs of large bilaterally placed spines on its trunk.
It is believed to be related to modern kinorhynchs.
-- which are the most diverse group of animals on the planet,” said Xiao, who refers to kinorhynchs as “kinos” for short.
“Although arthropod fossils date back to more than 530 million years ago, no kino fossils have ever been reported.
Details of the Eokinorhynchus rarus fossil, only a few millimeters in length, can be seen in this electron microscopic image.
The first specimen was unearthed in rocks in Nanjiang, China, in 2013 and more fossils were found later that year and in 2014.
Helping lead the international team of scientists and biomedical engineers who unearthed, studied, and imaged the ancient, armored, worm-like creature is Shuhai Xiao, a professor of geobiology in the Department of Geosciences, part of the College of Science at Virginia Tech.
This is a huge gap in the fossil record, with more than 540 million years of evolutionary history undocumented.
Our discovery is the first report of kino fossils.” Xiao added that the new fossil can tell scientists more about how and why body segmentation evolved many times among not only arthropods, but several other groups of animals.
The group’s findings were published in Scientific Reports, a Nature family journal.
“Kinos represent an animal group that is related to arthropods -- insects, shrimps, spiders, etc.