Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Oldest Footprints On Earth Left By Mysterious Animal 550 Million Years Ago

The footprints are thought to date back 550 million years GettyMore The footprints are thought to date back 550 million years GettyMore
Frank Williams | 08 June, 2018, 22:21

Thus one can say that the sudden surge in bio-diversity around five hundred and ten to five hundred and forty million years ago.

The fossil footprints for animal appendages was made in the Ediacaran Period, about 635 to 541 million years ago in China, according to the study.

The characteristics of the trackways indicated that they were produced by bilaterian animals with paired appendages that raised the animal body above the water-sediment interface.

The researchers speculate that the same creature left both the tracks and the burrows, suggesting an animal that scurried and tunneled its way across the ground.

Researchers aren't exactly sure how many legs the creature had - it could be two, or it could be many more. "Also, they are organized in repeated groups, as expected if the animal had multiple paired appendages".

Before this, no evidence of the limbed animals before the Cambrian Explosion was available.

"Previously identified footprints are between 540 and 530 million years old". The study showed that the oldest footprints were left between 551 million and 541 million years ago during the Ediacaran period, about 245 million years before dinosaurs started roaming the Earth.

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The fossils are just a few millimetres in width and Xiao's team spotted them after painstakingly tilting rock slabs at different angles so the sunlight would illuminate any subtle traces left by ancient bugs. This new find is the first direct evidence of animals with appendages during the Late Ediacaran Period.

The ancient trackways and burrows are pictured. Take that, rest of the pre-Cambrian life forms!

As Xiao explains, knowing when the first legged animal appeared on Earth is a crucial detail, considering that the movement of sediments triggered by that first walking creature as it trotted over our planet's surface could have had a major impact on the Earth's geochemical cycles and climate.

"At least 3 living groups of animals have paired appendages (represented by arthropods such as bumble bees, annelids such as bristle worms, and tetrapods such as humans)".

This is a sign of "complex behavior involving both walking and burrowing", the team argues in the paper.

Unfortunately, the team hasn't got a complete fossil record, and they can not assess the habits or needs of the animal that left those 'footprints.' They didn't find the body fossils of the animal, and they might never find it, as preservation is highly unlikely after so much time.

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