Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Two Thirds of a Billion Years Ago: Earth's First Animals?

"Oldest Animal Life on Earth Found?"
Jennifer Viegas , Animal News, Discovery News (August 17, 2010)

"Dating to 650 million years ago, evidence of primitive sponges pushes the fossil record back by about 70 million years.

"Animals have been on Earth for at least 650 million years, suggest recently found primitive sponge fossils from South Australia.

"This discovery pushes back the fossil record for animals by about 70 million years, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

"The prior oldest known hard-bodied animals were reef-dwelling organisms called Namacalathus, which date to approximately 550 million years ago. Disputed remains for other possible soft-bodied animals date to between 577 and 542 million years ago...."

Looks like animals, tiny ones, by our standards, may have been around just after - and before the "Snowball Earth" event, when we had glaciers down to the equator.

The article tells a little about how the fossils were studied, and what the scientists say is the least-unlikely explanation for what they found.

Like I've said before: Things happened earlier.

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