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Starfish: rare fossil helps answer the mystery of how they evolved arms

By Aaron W Hunter, Science Guide & Tutor, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
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A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and palaeontology: how starfish evolved their arms.

Starfish are one of the most recognisable animals on our planet. Most people probably associate them with trips to the beach, walking in rock pools or swimming in the sea. They might appear simple creatures, but the way these animals’ distinctive biology evolved was, until recently, unknown.

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