Scientists have discovered what they believe is an eight-armed creature, which colonised a large section of the world's oceans over 300 million years before the first dinosaurs emerged. The findings represent the first comparable animal fossils from the Ediacaran Period, 635 to 541 million years ago, which appear in two drastically different preservation environments - black shale of South China and quartz rock of South Australia. "According to palaeogeographic reconstructions, South China and South Australia were close to each other at the time, belonging to a supercontinent called Gondwana," says lead author Dr Maoyan Zhu. Zhu, a scientist at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, first helped to make the China-Australia connection two years ago during a Beijing conference. He showed a photo of the unusual eight-armed creature, called Eoandromeda octobrachiata, to co-author Dr James Gehling of the South Australia Museum.