Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fossil Evidence Of Worms Over One Billion Years Old Reported In Science

Date:
October 1, 1998
Source:
American Association For The Advancement Of Science
Summary:
Researchers have discovered what appears to be evidence of worm-like animals in rocks that are over 1 billion years old--about twice as old as any other evidence for multicellular life yet discovered.

Washington D.C. -- Researchers have discovered what appears to be evidence of worm-like animals in rocks that are over 1 billion years old--about twice as old as any other evidence for multicellular life yet discovered. These findings add a new perspective to the origination of multicellular animals, typically thought to have begun with a sudden explosion during the early Cambrian period, about 540 million years ago. The study will be published in the 2 October issue of Science.

Researchers from the University of Tübingen and Yale University, as well as Jadavpur University in Calcutta, have found tunnels that may be burrows left behind as ancient worm-like animals wriggled through sand beds underneath a shallow sea covering what is now Central India. These structures, known as "trace fossils," were preserved when the beds solidified into rock 1.1 billion years ago. Before this discovery, the oldest known fossil evidence of multicellular animals was 580 million years old.

The Cambrian is often thought to have been the "big bang" of animal evolution, a time when a wide variety of organisms originated and left their mark on the fossil record. An important argument for this model of evolution has been that no multicellular organisms have been found in rocks older than the Cambrian. However, some molecular studies have suggested that soft-bodied animals arose well before the Cambrian, perhaps as much as 1 billion years ago. The new findings, reported by Adolf Seilacher and his colleagues, add to the body of evidence suggesting that the diversification of animal designs experienced a "slow burn" before the Cambrian explosion.

The trace fossils are preserved in the Chorhat Sandstone, which contains sand beds that built up during storms. The tops of many sand beds were covered with a microbial mat that blanketed the floor periodically and protected the sand below from any disturbances above. The ancient worm-like animals may have migrated through the sand just below the mats, using them as a source for food and oxygen since the water within the sand layers was probably "reduced," or poor in oxygen.

An important and often controversial consideration for researchers analyzing trace fossils is that physical processes can create patterns in sedimentary rocks that look very similar to tracks left behind by animals. According to Seilacher and his colleagues, the Chorhat findings are best explained as the products of burrowing animals. For example, the diameters vary from tunnel to tunnel but remain constant along each individual tunnel. The tunnels also do not resemble the structures commonly caused by physical processes and are similar to younger trace fossils known to be produced by triploblastic animals (animals that developed from an embryo and that contain three outer membranes, as do worms).

The authors note in their paper that the existence of worm-like animals so much earlier than the Cambrian period would suggest that "animal body plans changed very little before the explosive emergence of new designs in the Precambrian/Cambrian transition and the onset of an arms-race style of Darwinian evolution."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Association For The Advancement Of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Association For The Advancement Of Science. "Fossil Evidence Of Worms Over One Billion Years Old Reported In Science." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981001080637.htm>.
American Association For The Advancement Of Science. (1998, October 1). Fossil Evidence Of Worms Over One Billion Years Old Reported In Science. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981001080637.htm
American Association For The Advancement Of Science. "Fossil Evidence Of Worms Over One Billion Years Old Reported In Science." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981001080637.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — A new study is packed with interesting Neanderthal-related findings, including a "definitive answer" to when they went extinct. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Newsy (Aug. 15, 2014) — A mother and son in Alaska uncovered woolly mammoth tusks in the same river more than two decades apart. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Newsy (Aug. 14, 2014) — Newly found fossils reveal a previously unknown species of flying reptile with a really weird head, which some say looks like a butterfly. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins