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These fossil beds provide evidence of about 32 modern animal groups, plus about 20 other animal body forms that are so different from any modern animals that they cannot be assigned to any one of the modern groups.

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    The singular would also work perfectly well here. Sep 1, 2023 at 14:34

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I think the writer has chosen "animals" here because there are multiple fossilised animals being compared with modern ones. Each of the 20 is very different from any modern animal, but the 20 are very different from any 20 modern animals.

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    "the 20 are very different from any modern animal" also makes sense, right?
    – Goodman
    Sep 1, 2023 at 16:27
  • @wangTao yes it makes sense and is probably what I would have written, but I guess it could be misinterpreted as "these 20 animals are not similar to any single modern animal", which the version in OP can't. Sep 2, 2023 at 19:19

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