Earliest Known Animal Footprints Dating 541 Million Years Ago Found in China

Christopher Davidson
Июня 8, 2018

The 550-million-year-old tracks measure only a few millimetres in width, and consist of two rows of imprints arranged in what the researchers describe as a "poorly organised series or repeated groups", which could be due to variations in gait, pace, or interactions with the surface of what was once an ancient riverbed.

Unfortunately for scientists, the creature that made the footprints did not die nearby and leave an equally well preserved fossil to be studied.

"They were probably made by millimeter-sized animals with bilateral appendages and can provide important insights into early bilaterian evolution and behaviors".

The identity of the creature that made the 546-million-year-old tracks is still unknown, but they come from the period when the earliest animals are thought to have evolved.

Still, this discovery means that paleontologists will have to revise their vision of how life developed in Earth's primordial oceans. The newfound trace fossils are some of the earliest known evidence for animal appendages on record.

As the Inquisitr previously reported, up until that historic event, which lasted for 20-25 million years and gave rise to most of the major animal groups on the planet, animal life on Earth was limited to simpler, single-celled or multicellular organisms. Precisely what the creature looked like is a mystery, though: nothing this old with legs has been discovered to date.

Читайте также: Michal Kwiatkowski regains Criterium du Dauphine lead as Team Sky dominate

However, the fossil record of animal appendages confirms that their evolutionary ancestry was rooted in the Ediacaran Period, the researchers noted.

He added: "At least three living groups of animals have paired appendages (represented by arthropods, such as bumblebees; annelids, such as bristle worms; and tetrapods, such as humans)".

Near the ancient footprints, the team found fossilized burrows, which suggests that the animal might have been periodically tunneling into sediments and microbial mats, either in search of food or perhaps to mine for oxygen.

'Arthropods and annelids, or their ancestors, are possibilities.

Created before the Cambrian Explosion-a sudden burst in animal diversity that took place about 541 million years ago-scientists think these are the oldest trackways ever discovered on Earth.

"This style of preservation is distinct from other types of trace fossils, for example, tunnels or burrows, or body fossils".

При любом использовании материалов сайта и дочерних проектов, гиперссылка на обязательна.
«» 2007 - 2018 Copyright.
Автоматизированное извлечение информации сайта запрещено.

Код для вставки в блог

Other reports by

Discuss This Article