Namibia fossils are first animals - study

2012-02-06 14:16
Johannesburg - Scientists digging in a Namibian national park have uncovered sponge-like fossils they say are the first animals, a discovery that would push the emergence of animal life back millions of years.

The tiny vase-shaped creatures' fossils were found in Namibia's Etosha National Park and other sites around the country in rocks between 760 and 550 million years old, a 10-member team of international researchers said in a paper published in the South African Journal of Science.

That means animals, previously thought to have emerged 600 million to 650 million years ago, actually appeared 100 million to 150 million years before that, the authors said.

It also means the hollow globs - about the size of a dust speck and covered in holes that allowed fluid to pass in and out of their bodies - were our ancestors, said co-author Tony Prave, a geologist at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

"If one looks at the family tree and projects this backward to where you have what's called the stem group, the ancestor of all animals, then yes, this would be our great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother," he said.

Prave said fossil evidence that animals emerged as long as 760 million years ago fit together neatly with what geneticists had hypothesised by looking at "molecular clocks", a means of gauging a species' age by looking at the percentage difference between its DNA and that of another species.

"The aspect of this that's rather satisfying, at least intellectually, is that it is in broad agreement with what geneticists would tell us based on looking at molecular clocks when we should see the first advent of large multi-cellular life forms," he said.
Read more on:    palaeontology

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.