500-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature Unearthed - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

500-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature Unearthed

Posted: Updated:

Scientists have unearthed extraordinarily preserved fossils of a 520-million-year-old sea creature, one of the earliest animal fossils ever found, according to a new study.

The fossilized animal, an arthropod called a fuxhianhuiid, has primitive limbs under its head, as well as the earliest example of a nervous system that extended past the head. The primitive creature may have used the limbs to push food into its mouth as it crept across the seafloor. The limbs may shed light on the evolutionary history of arthropods, which include crustaceans and insects."

Since biologists rely heavily on organization of head appendages to classify arthropod groups, such as insects and spiders, our study provides a crucial reference point for reconstructing the evolutionary history and relationships of the most diverse and abundant animals on Earth," said study co-author Javier Ortega-Hernández, an earth scientist at the University of Cambridge, in a statement. "This is as early as we can currently see into arthropod limb development."

The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Primordial animal

The fuxhianhuiid lived nearly 50 million years before animals first emerged from the sea onto land, during the early part of the Cambrian explosion, when simple multicellular organisms rapidly evolved into complex sea life.

While paleontologists have unearthed previous examples of a fuxhianhuiid before, the fossils were all found in the head-down position, with their delicate internal organs obscured by a large carapace or shell.

However, when Ortega-Hernández and his colleagues began excavating in a fossil-rich region of southwest China around Kunming called Xiaoshiba, they unearthed several specimens of fuxhianhuiid where the bodies had been flipped before fossilization. All told, the team unearthed an amazingly preserved arthropod, as well as eight additional specimens.

These primeval creatures probably spent most of their days crawling across the seabed trawling for food and may have also been able to swim short distances. The sea creatures, some of the earliest arthropods or jointed animals, probably evolved from worms with legs.

The discovery sheds light on how some of the earliest ancestors of today's animals may have evolved.

"These fossils are our best window to see the most primitive state of animals as we know them – including us," Ortega-Hernández said in a statement. "Before that there is no clear indication in the fossil record of whether something was an animal or a plant – but we are still filling in the details, of which this is an important one."

By: Tia Ghose LiveScience (Via NBC News)

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 22nd

    Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 22nd

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 2:00 AM EST2018-01-23 07:00:13 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 22nd.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 22nd.

    More >>
  • Florida man arrested for DUI after mistaking bank drive-thru for Taco Bell

    Florida man arrested for DUI after mistaking bank drive-thru for Taco Bell

    Saturday, January 20 2018 1:40 AM EST2018-01-20 06:40:23 GMT

    TAMPA, Fla. - A Tampa, Florida man was arrested on Wednesday afternoon for DUI after deputies say he mistook a bank drive-thru for Taco Bell. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office told ABC Action News that the manager of a Bank of America called to report an impaired driver after he found an unconscious man behind the wheel of a blue sedan in the bank's drive-thru lane. The manager told deputies that after knocking on the car window for 

    More >>

    TAMPA, Fla. - A Tampa, Florida man was arrested on Wednesday afternoon for DUI after deputies say he mistook a bank drive-thru for Taco Bell. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office told ABC Action News that the manager of a Bank of America called to report an impaired driver after he found an unconscious man behind the wheel of a blue sedan in the bank's drive-thru lane. The manager told deputies that after knocking on the car window for 

    More >>
  • The Latest: Government shutting down amid partisan standoff

    The Latest: Government shutting down amid partisan standoff

    Saturday, January 20 2018 12:54 AM EST2018-01-20 05:54:47 GMT

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the budget battle in Congress (all times local): 12 midnight  The U.S. government shut down at midnight after Congress failed to resolve a partisan standoff over immigration and spending. In a late-night vote, Senate Democrats joined to block a bill that would have kept the government running for another four weeks. A flurry of last-minute negotiations failed to beat the deadline. Democrats have tried to use the F...

    More >>

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the budget battle in Congress (all times local): 12 midnight  The U.S. government shut down at midnight after Congress failed to resolve a partisan standoff over immigration and spending. In a late-night vote, Senate Democrats joined to block a bill that would have kept the government running for another four weeks. A flurry of last-minute negotiations failed to beat the deadline. Democrats have tried to use the F...

    More >>