Microfossils reveal the secrets of the appearance of the first animals on the Earth: it happened 570 million years ago

Microfossils reveal the secrets of the first animals on Earth

Science has long been looking for an answer to the question: when did the first animals appear on our planet? The scientists from Uppsala University and their colleagues from Denmark concluded that this event may occurred about 570 million years ago. Embryo-like microfossils found in Greenland serve as an evidence of that assumption. The researchers say that find suggests that such organisms were distributed across the globe.

One of the authors of the study, a paleontologist Sebastian Willman, believes that the discovery expands the capabilities of the scientists who seek to understand the past periods during which the first animals appeared on the Earth 540 million years ago. It had good reasons.

They are backed up by important evolutionary rationales. One of them is called the Cambrian explosion. Many fossils from that period, according to the scientists, can be classified as animals. Finds made in northern Greenland, in Portfjeld, provide a better understanding of the animal's origins. In rocks that are about 570 million years old, the scientists found microflossias of the objects that can be considered as eggs and even animal embryos.

They are preserved and the researchers were able to extract their intracellular structures. They found that living organisms lived in shallow water in the coastal areas around Greenland during the Edicar period, that is, 645-541 million years ago.

Their diversity demonstrates that organisms were complex, and little is known about it to science. Similar finds were made in southern China. According to the preliminary data, the age of the fossil remains is about 600 million years.

Having studied them, the researchers came to the conclusion that it is microflossia that can give a lot of information about the origin of animals on our planet. Fossils from Greenland are slightly younger but generally identical to those found in China.

Reference: “Ediacaran Doushantuo-type biota discovered in Laurentia” by Sebastian Willman, John S. Peel, Jon R. Ineson, Niels H. Schovsbo, Elias J. Rugen and Robert Frei, 6 November 2020, Communications Biology. DOI:10.1038/s42003-020-01381-7