Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Geologist Analyzes Earliest Shell-covered Fossil Animals

Date:
October 22, 2009
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
The fossil remains of some of the first animals with shells, ocean-dwelling creatures that measure a few centimeters in length and date to about 520 million years ago, provide a window on evolution at this time, according to scientists. Their research indicates that these animals were larger than previously thought.

Cambrothyra fossil.

The fossil remains of some of the first animals with shells, ocean-dwelling creatures that measure a few centimeters in length and date to about 520 million years ago, provide a window on evolution at this time, according to scientists. Their research indicates that these animals were larger than previously thought.

John Moore, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth Science at UC Santa Barbara, and his collaborators, analyzed fossils from the epoch called the Early Cambrian. During this important time in the history of the earth, there was a tremendous diversification of animal life in the oceans. Many of the major animal groups that are still alive today appeared at this time, as well as many unusual groups that went extinct. In particular, the Cambrian marked the first widespread occurrence of animals with shells or other hard parts. Many of these early animals had complex external armors containing dozens to thousands of tiny pieces. When the animals died, the armor fell apart. From the resulting jumbled puzzle pieces, Moore and his research team discerned what the animals were like, and how they are related to other animals.

"In our study, we focused on a strange Cambrian creature, called Cambrothyra," said Moore. He explained that Cambrothyra fossils look like tiny jars or vases, a few tenths of a millimeter long. They have been found in only a few locations in central China. The research team collected rocks from China's Shaanxi Province and brought them back to the lab where they extracted the fossils from the host rocks.

"While some scientists once thought that each little jar-like structure of Cambrothyra was the shell of a tiny single-celled protist, our work instead supports the hypothesis that Cambrothyra was an animal, probably a few centimeters long, that was covered with an armor that was made up of hundreds of separate tiny, jar-shaped pieces," said Moore. "In particular, Cambrothyra seems to be related to another unusual Cambrian animal, the chancelloriids, which were attached to the sea floor and looked a bit like barrel cacti -- although they were animals rather than plants which suggests that Cambrothyra may have been a relative." Cambrothyra also shares similarities with a different Cambrian group, the halkieriids. This animal looked like a slug covered with armor. It traveled around the sea floor and thus may help support the idea that chancelloriids and halkieriids are closely related to each other, despite very different appearances.

Moore presented his findings at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Portland, Ore., today. He completed the work in collaboration with his advisor Susannah Porter, assistant professor in the Department of Earth Science at UCSB; Michael Steiner of the Freie Universitδt, Berlin; and Guoxiang Li of the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "Geologist Analyzes Earliest Shell-covered Fossil Animals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091022101702.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2009, October 22). Geologist Analyzes Earliest Shell-covered Fossil Animals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091022101702.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "Geologist Analyzes Earliest Shell-covered Fossil Animals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091022101702.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) — West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) 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:
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