Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Verisimilus
A new study has cast further light on a mystery fossil that scientists say is as ‘strange as life on another planet’.
Resembling a strange cross between a fungus, a lichen, a worm and a jellyfish, this peculiar organism was first described back in 1947 and has remained something of an enigma ever since.
Dickinsonia lived hundreds of millions of years ago on the sea floor and ranged in size from a few millimeters across to around half a meter. What’s particularly intriguing about the species is that it was one of the earliest known organisms to move around rather than simply staying rooted to the spot.
Now in a new study, scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have managed to learn more about these peculiar organisms thanks to the discovery of additional Dickinsonia fossils with organic tissue preserved within the impressions left behind by the creatures’ bodies.
“Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years over what Dickinsonia and other bizarre fossils of the Ediacaran biota were: giant single-celled amoeba, lichen, failed experiments of evolution or the earliest animals on Earth,” said study co-author Jochen Brocks.
“The fossil fat now confirms Dickinsonia as the oldest known animal fossil, solving a decades-old mystery that has been the Holy Grail of palaeontology.”
Source: Live Science