Scientists Discover Oldest Known Animal Footprints in Southern China

Scientists Discover Oldest Known Animal Footprints in Southern China

Scientists Discover Oldest Known Animal Footprints in Southern China

In a release put out by the Chinese Academy of Sciences- Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, researchers noted that the fossils were from the Ediacaran Period- about 635-541 million years ago.

They are often assumed to have appeared and radiated suddenly during the Cambrian Explosion about 541 to 510 million years ago, although it has always been suspected that their evolutionary ancestry was rooted in the Ediacaran Period.

An global team of scientists has recently uncovered what they believe are the earliest animal fossil footprints on record, Phys.org reports.

The Cambrian Period marks the time in the fossil record when most major groups of animals first appeared.

Bilaterians are one of the most common body types in the world, now and throughout history, but previous fossil evidence for them only goes back as far as the Cambrian. However, Xiao said they are uncertain if the creature belonged to the arthropod family or whether it has many or two legs. Bilaterians are a group of animals that have paired appendages - in this case, paired legs.

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology and Virginia Tech have teamed together to find the prints and analyze them.

A set of footprints discovered in an ancient seafloor in the Yangtze Gorges in China reveals what creature on Earth is first to develop feet. Those footprints were dated to be between 11,000 and 14,000 years old, making them twice as old as the earliest human civilization.

Bilaterian animals (like annelids and arthropods) have appendages that are paired.

The footprints themselves look like two rows of holes punched in the ancient sediment and apparently lead away from the remains of a burrow.

The trackways are the earliest discovered indication of when animals evolved appendages.

'Arthropods and annelids, or their ancestors, are possibilities.

In a press release about the survey, Dr. Shuhai Xiao of Virginia Tech conveys, "If an animal makes footprints, the footprints are depressions on the sediment surface, and the depressions are filled with sediments from the overlying layer."This style of preservation is distinct from other types of trace fossils, for example, tunnels or burrows, or body fossils". No fossils has been found in the fossil record, and the odds are it never will be found - it was a stroke of luck that the tracks were even preserved.

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