Printer Friendly

Remains may be an evolutionary relic.

Fossils recently found in southwestern China may be of a lineage that originated long before the Cambrian explosion of biodiversity, when most major groups of animals first appeared in the fossil record.

The frondlike animals were up to 7.5 centimeters long and anchored themselves to the seafloor with a hollow stalk, says Simon Conway Morris, a paleontologist at the University of Cambridge in England. The rocks bearing the fossils were deposited on an ocean bottom about 520 million years ago during the Cambrian period. The fine-grained sediments that covered the organisms preserved details of the animals that haven't been seen in other fossils. Such features include a network of channels that ran between neighboring branches of the frond.

"These [animals] are strikingly similar to older organisms," says Conway Morris. Creatures with multiple frondlike structures lived at least 20 million years earlier, during the Ediacaran period, the interval that immediately preceded the Cambrian.

Conway Morris and his colleagues suggest in the May 5 Science that the Cambrian fronds are members of a lineage that survived the Ediacaran period, although they mention other potential scenarios.--S.P.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:PALEONTOLOGY
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Date:May 20, 2006
Previous Article:Three Gorges Dam is affecting ocean life.
Next Article:J. Robert Oppenheimer: A Life.

Related Articles
Oldest marsupial found?
Rare find: a teething dinosaur embryo.
MRI provides glimpse into ancient bones.
Brushing the dust off ancient DNA; genetic relics reveal hidden details of prehistoric life.
Psst ... wanna buy a T. rex? Paleontologists fret about dinosaur sales.
Attacking an enigma with engineering.
Dinosaur family hails from Texas.
All mixed up over birds and dinosaurs.
Fake fossil not one but two new species.
Fossil ape makes evolutionary debut.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters