Walking cactus found, according to articles in Nature News 23 February 2011 and National Geographic News and Nature vol. 470, p526, 24 February 2011. Researchers in China have found approximately 30 fossils of a strange creature with a worm-like body and ten pairs of jointed legs. The legs seem to be covered in a spiky exoskeleton, which inspired the scientists to give it the scientific name Diania cactiformis, and the nickname “walking cactus”. The fossils were found in Yunnan Province in south western China and are dated as being 500 million years old. The 6cm long creatures belong to an extinct group of animals known as lobopodians, worm-like creatures with legs, similar to living velvet worms, but with longer legs.

Lobopodians are believed to be the ancestors of arthropods – jointed legged animals that include insects, spiders and crustaceans. The fact that D. cactiformis seems to have jointed legs appears to confirm this belief. Previously discovered fossil lobopodians seemed to be completely soft bodied. Jianni Liu, a palaeontologist from the Early Life Institute at Northwest University in Xi’an, China, who studied the fossil, commented: “A lot of scientists had long suspected that arthropods evolved from lobopodians. But we did not have a single fossil we could point at and say, ‘This is the first lobopodian with jointed legs’. Now, with the ‘walking cactus’, we do. It is important because it could be seen as a missing link from lobopodians to arthropods”.

Editorial Comment: The origin of arthropods is only a mystery for those who believe they evolved from a creature that was not an arthropod, and this new fossil definitely does not resemble any living arthropod. Diania cactiformis does seem to have the same body plan as lobopodians, although its legs are much larger in relation to its body than is seen in other fossils identified as lobopodians. To date the only evidence we have are the fossils found by the Chinese researchers, which show D. cactiformis was already a fully formed creature, distinct from any other creature at the time of its fossilisation.

The fact that the creature no longer exists does not mean it evolved into something else. It just means that it is dead, and therefore has perished as part of the overall degeneration of the world that has been occurring since the good created world was corrupted by man’s sin and has suffered under God’s judgement. You can really be dogmatic – all the evidence we have of fossil and living arthropods is that they have always been arthropods – just as God created, according to their kinds. (Ref. invertebrates, extinction)

Evidence News 11 May 2011