Fossil evidence of the world’s first animal has been found in northwestern Russia. The fossils of the genus Dickinsonia date back an astounding 558 million years, roughly 20 million years before the Cambrian era which had previously been thought of as the beginning of animal life on Earth.
The Cambrian era brought snails, bivalves, and arthropods to the world. The Dickinsonia fits under the umbrella of Ediacaran organisms, which scientists had not previously thought included animals. Dickinsonia appears to have been oval-shaped.
The research recently published in Science solves “a decades-old mystery that has been the holy grail of paleontology,” said Jochen Brocks, one of the study’s authors. The discovery of the fossils begs as many questions as it answers, most centrally how life evolved from the Dickinsonia to the Cambrian era, as the recently-discovered first animal does not at all resemble the modern ones we know today.
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