Fat from 558 million years ago reveals earliest known animal

Friday 21 September 2018
Dickinsonia
Fat from 558 million years ago reveals earliest known animal

"I took a helicopter to reach this very remote part of the world - home to bears and mosquitoes - where I could find Dickinsonia fossils with organic matter still intact," Ilya Bobrovskiy said.

Is Dickinsonia our oldest ancestor?

ANU PhD student Ilya Bobrovskiy and Assoc. Prof. Jochen Brocks have discovered molecules of fat in an ancient fossil to reveal the earliest confirmed animal in the geological record that lived on Earth 558 million years ago.

The strange creature called Dickinsonia, which grew up to 1.4 metres in length and was oval shaped with rib-like segments running along its body, was part of the Ediacara Biota that lived on Earth 20 million years prior to the 'Cambrian explosion' of modern animal life.

Ilya Bobrovskiy who discover the fossils in northwest Russia brought the fossils back to RSES labs at the ANU to be analysed. Together with scientists from Russia and Germany, the team's discovery, published today in the journal Science, puts to rest a 75-year-old debate about the nature of these organisms. 

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