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Weird NewsIncredible Fossils Link Ancient Creature to Earliest ‘Footprints’ on Earth

11:51  05 september  2019
11:51  05 september  2019 Source:   gizmodo.com

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The fossilized remnants of a newly described creature , dubbed Yilingia spiciformis, were found in rocks pulled from China’s Dengying Formation in the Yangtze Gorges area. “Mobility made it possible for animals to make an unmistakable footprint on Earth , both literally and metaphorically.

Fossils can represent microscopic creatures , animals with no bones at all, preserved internal organs, and traces of skin, hair and feathers. They can even offer evidence of ancient animals' behavior in impressions of footprints or burrows, or as individuals trapped in amber — snapshots of life in scenes

Incredible Fossils Link Ancient Creature to Earliest ‘Footprints’ on Earth © Image: NIGPAS Yilingia spiciformis fossil (left), track marks (right), and artist’s reconstruction (center). Aquatic, worm-like animals capable of crawling through mud appeared at least 550 million years ago, according to new fossil evidence. The discovery is helping to resolve a longstanding question as to when segmented, mobile animals first appeared on the planet.

It’s the paleontological equivalent of finally being able to put a face to a name.

In this case, a team of scientists from Virginia Tech and the Chinese Academy of Sciences were able to connect an ancient species to the trail marks it left behind. Prior to this study, the same group of scientists detected animal tracks in rocks dated to between 551 million and 539 million years old. Trouble is, these tracks could not be connected to a specific organism, leaving the features ambiguous in nature; it’s exceptionally rare to find a fossilized creature resting next to its fossilized trail marks.

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How old are the oldest footprints on Earth ? Both the footprints and the borrows are known as "trace fossils ," a term that refers to fossilized remnants that animals leave behind, such as The newfound trace fossils are some of the earliest known evidence for animal appendages on record.

Ancient creatures roamed the Earth and some new findings are shedding light on the unknown. As its name suggests, the Microraptor family were distantly related to the more famous Velociraptor genus, with both creatures having sprung from the Shanag genus of the Early Cretaceous period.

New research published today in Nature showcases one such example. The fossilized remnants of a newly described creature, dubbed Yilingia spiciformis, were found in rocks pulled from China’s Dengying Formation in the Yangtze Gorges area. These rocks date back to the Ediacaran period, long before the appearance of dinosaurs and the Pangea supercontinent. The track marks found in these rocks are among the oldest known on Earth—and we finally know who made them.

Related slideshow: Ancient bird foot found in amber has bizarrely long toes (Provided by National Geography)

Incredible Fossils Link Ancient Creature to Earliest ‘Footprints’ on Earth

“This discovery shows that segmented and mobile animals evolved by 550 million years ago,” said Shuhai Xiao, a paleontologist from Virginia Tech and the lead author of the new study, in a press release. “Mobility made it possible for animals to make an unmistakable footprint on Earth, both literally and metaphorically. Those are the kind of features you find in a group of animals called bilaterans. This group includes us humans and most animals. Animals and particularly humans are movers and shakers on Earth. Their ability to shape the face of the planet is ultimately tied to the origin of animal [mobility].”

Incredible Fossils Link Ancient Creature to Earliest ‘Footprints’ on Earth

Incredible Fossils Link Ancient Creature to Earliest ‘Footprints’ on Earth Aquatic, worm-like animals capable of crawling through mud appeared at least 550 million years ago, according to new fossil evidence. The discovery is helping to resolve a longstanding question as to when segmented, mobile animals first appeared on the planet. It’s the paleontological equivalent of finally being able to put a face to a name. File video: 3.8-Million-Year-Old Fossil Reveals Ancestor Of 'Lucy' (GeoBeats) require(["binding"], function (binding) { binding("wcVideoPlayer", "#video_player_35095638-24fe-4163-abe4-3b4bc1273929").

Scientists think land beasts evolved from ancient creatures that left the sea and evolved lungs and legs. If the new finding is real — the discoverer anticipates skepticism — it pushes the The aquatic creature left its " footprints " as two parallel rows of small dots, each about 2 millimeters in diameter.

This worm might be the earliest known commuter on Earth . Live Science is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. This worm might be the earliest known commuter on Earth . (Too bad the journey killed it.)

Yilingia spiciformis featured a back, stomach, head, and tail. It looked similar to a millipede, featuring a long, narrow body composed of around 50 body segments. Yilingia spiciformis was around 26 millimeters (1 inch) wide and about 27 centimeters (10.6 inches) long. The creature would’ve dragged its body across the muddy ocean floor, creating trails as long as 58 centimeters (23 inches). In total, the scientists managed to identify 35 fossils of this species, along with 13 trace fossils of the trails. The “smoking gun” fossil, however, shows the creature with its associated trail mark.

Incredible Fossils Link Ancient Creature to Earliest ‘Footprints’ on Earth © Shuhai XIAO This Virginia Tech University handout picture shows fossilised traces left by the Yilingia spiciformis millions of years ago

The new research, in addition to offering a date for the emergence of bilateral symmetry in animals, also establishes an origin of directional mobility. Scientists had previously estimated an emergence date between 635 million and 539 million years ago based on other evidence, and this latest discovery further constrains these approximations.

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No matter which way the giant creature went, ancient humans followed it, stepping in Remarkable footprints . Researchers found the prints left by this giant ground sloth and humans in New Mexico's However, there were fewer than a dozen sloth track marks with human footprints inside, Bennett said.

But fossil traces of these creatures are hard to come by so researchers are turning to ancient footprints of these ruling beasts, giving new clues into their evolution. Bernardi and colleagues also found that these creatures , both before and after the extinction events, lived at very low latitudes.

“I think that this is a thorough piece of work based on years of detailed study of the Shibantan fossils,” Graham Shields, a professor of Geology at University College London, told Gizmodo. “Bilaterian animals are rare finds in the Ediacaran Period, and these are undoubtedly amazing examples with both trace and trace maker being preserved.”

Shields, who wasn’t involved with the new study, said the fossils “also have implications for the wider Earth system, as such energetic metabolisms were a first for the world and suggest that for the first time large organisms could actively mine the shallow seafloor, redistributing nutrients.” Prior to the emergence of these sea creatures, the only animals around were rooted to the seafloor, or they floated passively through the water, he said.

The discovery wasn’t a huge surprise for Shields, who said the newly discovered species is “in line” with modern animal groups such as annelid worms and arthropods—groups that would go on to dominate and diversify during the ensuing Cambrian period.

The discovery also made sense to Shields in that it’s consistent with his own work. New research published earlier this week shows that a weird carbon isotope anomaly dating back to the same period can be linked to the oxygenation of the world’s oceans, facilitating the rise of complex new organisms. A story of “co-evolution between life and the environment during these key early stages of animal evolution and diversification is all coming together,” Shields said.

You’ve Heard of Water Bears, but How About These Ancient Mold Pigs? .
An analysis of 30-million-year-old amber has resulted in the discovery of a previously unknown microscopic creature from the Cenozoic period. An analysis of 30-million-year-old amber has resulted in the discovery of a previously unknown microscopic creature from the Cenozoic period. Bearing a resemblance to tardigrades (aka water bears), these now-extinct “mold pigs,” as they’ve been dubbed, are unlike anything seen before.

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