Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unique Fossils Capture ‘Cambrian Migration’

Date:
October 13, 2008
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
A unique set of fossils indicates that 525 million years ago marine animals congregated in Earth's ancient oceans, most likely for migration, according to an international team of scientists. Fossil evidence of collective behavior is extremely rare. But what makes the find even more intriguing is that it indicates that such behavior was occurring at the beginning of the 'Cambrian explosion' -- a major event that saw a vast profusion of complex organisms enter the fossil record for the first time.

Fossils showing 'migrating' Cambrian arthropods.
Credit: Derek Siveter

A unique set of fossils indicates that 525 million years ago marine animals congregated in Earth’s ancient oceans, most likely for migration, according to an international team of scientists.

Related Articles


Fossil evidence of collective behaviour is extremely rare. But what makes the find even more intriguing is that it indicates that such behaviour was occurring at the beginning of the ‘Cambrian explosion’ – a major event that saw a vast profusion of complex organisms enter the fossil record for the first time.

The fossils, found in Yunnan province in south west China, were analysed by scientists from Oxford University, the University of Leicester and Yunnan University, China. The find is reported in an article in the journal Science.

‘What we see in these fossils are shrimp-like animals with a carapace and segmented body, which are similar to arthropods that we know existed in the Cambrian seas,’ said Professor Derek Siveter of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Oxford’s Department of Earth Sciences, co-author of the article. ‘What’s unique about the Yunnan fossil material is that it shows individual specimens closely interlocked to form a chain, of which there are several examples.’

These chains may have formed for reproductive purposes, or they may represent a stage in the animal’s life cycle – if so there are no comparable occurrences in modern arthropods.

The team believes the congregation is more likely to be evidence of migratory activity, possibly associated with animals congregating as a defence against predators.

‘The simplest explanation is that what we’re seeing is reflecting some sort of migration,’ said Professor Derek Siveter. ‘The spiny lobster is one example of this sort of migratory behaviour amongst modern arthropods. These lobsters join together in a kind of ‘train’ with the antennae of one animal sometimes touching the tail of the animal in front. However, the animals represented by the Chinese fossils are much more closely interlocked – they formed ‘chains’ rather than ‘trains’’.

The fossil was preserved in the Chengjian Lagerstatte, a fossil-rich exceptional preservation deposit discovered in 1984 that has been dated to the Lower Cambrian period, 525 million years ago, making it around 10 million years older than Canada’s famous Burgess Shale.

‘This amazingly rich period in the history of life saw the appearance of more or less all the major groups of animals that provide the biodiversity we see around us today,’ commented Professor Derek Siveter. ‘This find demonstrates that the creatures in our seas 525 million years ago were far from primitive, in fact they were complex organisms exhibiting some very sophisticated behaviour.’


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hou et al. Collective Behavior in an Early Cambrian Arthropod. Science, 2008; 322 (5899): 224 DOI: 10.1126/science.1162794

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Unique Fossils Capture ‘Cambrian Migration’." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081012093843.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2008, October 13). Unique Fossils Capture ‘Cambrian Migration’. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081012093843.htm
University of Oxford. "Unique Fossils Capture ‘Cambrian Migration’." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081012093843.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Amphipolis Tomb Architraves Reveal Faces

Amphipolis Tomb Architraves Reveal Faces

AFP (Nov. 22, 2014) — Faces in an area of mosaics is the latest find by archaeologists at a recently discovered tomb dating back to fourth century BC and the time of Alexander the Great in Greece. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Returns Looted Artifacts to Thailand

US Returns Looted Artifacts to Thailand

AFP (Nov. 19, 2014) — The United States has returns over 500 vases, bowls, axes, and other ancient artifacts mostly from the Ban Chiang archaeological site which were illegally looted from Thailand decades ago. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Search Through Every Public Tweet Sent Since 2006

How To Search Through Every Public Tweet Sent Since 2006

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) — Twitter has announced improvements to its search index that allow users to search through every public tweet sent since its inception in 2006. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Unlocks the Mystery of Paintings

Professor Unlocks the Mystery of Paintings

AP (Nov. 19, 2014) — Richard Johnson, a computer and engineering professor at Cornell University, is using technology to uncover mysteries about the age and authenticity of historic paintings by artists like Johannes Vermeer and Vincent Van Gogh. (Nov. 19) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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