Friday, February 19, 2010

Something Was Crawling on the Precambrian Mud

"First Muscles Evolved Earlier"
Discovery News (February 17, 2010)
"Earth's earliest creatures dragged themselves along like a sea anemone some 565 million years ago, newly found tracks suggest."

"Furrows preserved in 565-million-year-old rocks are now the first evidence that some of Earth's earliest and mysterious living things had muscles to move themselves -- and so were truly animals.

"That means muscles may have evolved earlier and been part of a long evolutionary fuse that led to the so-called 'Cambrian Explosion,' 30 million years later, of the many lineages of marine animals still found in the oceans today.

" 'If you saw (these furrows) in rocks the same age as dinosaurs, you'd say it was something crawling along the sea floor,' said Duncan McIlroy of Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada. 'But when it's this old you have to be very cautious about it.'

"The so-called Ediacarans are the earliest complex organisms before the Cambrian Explosion, and debate continues over what the Ediacarans looked like and even, what they were...."

The article gives a pretty good overview of how the scientists went about determining that what they were looking at was actually the track left by something dragging itself along the ocean floor. They even re-created Precambrian mud and studied tracks left by a sea anemone, a boneless, shell-less critter that makes tracks like the one they found.

As I've written before, this won't help you find a parking place or tell you how to have more fun on the job - unless you plan to be a paleontologist - but I'm fascinated by what we're learning about the world around us. And I think it's possible that you do, too.

Sort-of-related posts:Or, click "paleontology" in the label cloud.

By the way, you think you've got fungus problems? Check out this 20-foot fungus from the Silurian and Devonian periods:Don't worry, by the way. Prototaxites have been extinct for about 350,000,000 years.

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