500-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature Unearthed - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

500-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature Unearthed

Posted: Updated:

Scientists have unearthed extraordinarily preserved fossils of a 520-million-year-old sea creature, one of the earliest animal fossils ever found, according to a new study.

The fossilized animal, an arthropod called a fuxhianhuiid, has primitive limbs under its head, as well as the earliest example of a nervous system that extended past the head. The primitive creature may have used the limbs to push food into its mouth as it crept across the seafloor. The limbs may shed light on the evolutionary history of arthropods, which include crustaceans and insects."

Since biologists rely heavily on organization of head appendages to classify arthropod groups, such as insects and spiders, our study provides a crucial reference point for reconstructing the evolutionary history and relationships of the most diverse and abundant animals on Earth," said study co-author Javier Ortega-Hernández, an earth scientist at the University of Cambridge, in a statement. "This is as early as we can currently see into arthropod limb development."

The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Primordial animal

The fuxhianhuiid lived nearly 50 million years before animals first emerged from the sea onto land, during the early part of the Cambrian explosion, when simple multicellular organisms rapidly evolved into complex sea life.

While paleontologists have unearthed previous examples of a fuxhianhuiid before, the fossils were all found in the head-down position, with their delicate internal organs obscured by a large carapace or shell.

However, when Ortega-Hernández and his colleagues began excavating in a fossil-rich region of southwest China around Kunming called Xiaoshiba, they unearthed several specimens of fuxhianhuiid where the bodies had been flipped before fossilization. All told, the team unearthed an amazingly preserved arthropod, as well as eight additional specimens.

These primeval creatures probably spent most of their days crawling across the seabed trawling for food and may have also been able to swim short distances. The sea creatures, some of the earliest arthropods or jointed animals, probably evolved from worms with legs.

The discovery sheds light on how some of the earliest ancestors of today's animals may have evolved.

"These fossils are our best window to see the most primitive state of animals as we know them – including us," Ortega-Hernández said in a statement. "Before that there is no clear indication in the fossil record of whether something was an animal or a plant – but we are still filling in the details, of which this is an important one."

By: Tia Ghose LiveScience (Via NBC News)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Family's Car Catches Fire Inside Lion Enclosure

    Family's Car Catches Fire Inside Lion Enclosure

    Sunday, April 20 2014 2:57 PM EDT2014-04-20 18:57:30 GMT
    (NBC)- A British family was forced to flee their car inside a lion enclosure, after the vehicle caught fire. Other visitors shot amateur footage of the car on fire. Helen Clements, who was in the car with her two children, said they were caught between wanting to escape the burning car while evading the lions.>>
    (NBC)- A British family was forced to flee their car inside a lion enclosure, after the vehicle caught fire. Other visitors shot amateur footage of the car on fire. Helen Clements, who was in the car with her two children, said they were caught between wanting to escape the burning car while evading the lions.
    >>
  • BEAUTIFUL HOMES: Top 10 Most Expensive Homes For Sale In CDA

    BEAUTIFUL HOMES: Top 10 Most Expensive Homes For Sale In CDA

    Tuesday, March 25 2014 9:20 AM EDT2014-03-25 13:20:34 GMT
    KHQ.COM - When it comes to shopping around for a house, it's always fun to dream. We did a search for some of the most expensive homes for sale right now in the Coeur d' Alene area.>>
    KHQ.COM - When it comes to shopping around for a house, it's always fun to dream. We did a search for some of the most expensive homes for sale right now in the Coeur d' Alene area.>>
  • Fallen Hero Banner Project Denied From Marching In Seafair Torchlight Parade

    Fallen Hero Banner Project Denied From Marching In Seafair Torchlight Parade

    Sunday, April 20 2014 3:27 PM EDT2014-04-20 19:27:07 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - This year the Fallen Hero Banner project, which honors men and women from Washington who have died serving our country, applied to march in the Seafair Torchlight Parade in Seattle. However, the organization was denied by the parade selection committee via email saying, "the Fallen Hero Banner Project was not the right fit for the Torchlight Parade.">>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - This year the Fallen Hero Banner project, which honors men and women from Washington who have died serving our country, applied to march in the Seafair Torchlight Parade in Seattle. However, the organization was denied by the parade selection committee via email saying, "the Fallen Hero Banner Project was not the right fit for the Torchlight Parade.">>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • General Mills Scraps Controversial New Legal Terms

    General Mills Scraps Controversial New Legal Terms

    Sunday, April 20 2014 3:20 PM EDT2014-04-20 19:20:37 GMT
    BC-US--General Mills-Legal TermsGeneral Mills scraps controversial new legal termsEds: APNewsNow. Will be updated.NEW YORK (AP) - General Mills is scrapping a controversial plan to strip consumers of their right to sue the food company.The company, which owns Cheerios, Progresso and Yoplait, had posted a notice on its website notifying visitors that using the company's websites or engaging with it online in a variety of other ways meant they would have to give up their right to sue.>>
    BC-US--General Mills-Legal TermsGeneral Mills scraps controversial new legal termsEds: APNewsNow. Will be updated.NEW YORK (AP) - General Mills is scrapping a controversial plan to strip consumers of their right to sue the food company.The company, which owns Cheerios, Progresso and Yoplait, had posted a notice on its website notifying visitors that using the company's websites or engaging with it online in a variety of other ways meant they would have to give up their right to sue.>>
  • Family's Car Catches Fire Inside Lion Enclosure

    Family's Car Catches Fire Inside Lion Enclosure

    Sunday, April 20 2014 2:57 PM EDT2014-04-20 18:57:30 GMT
    (NBC)- A British family was forced to flee their car inside a lion enclosure, after the vehicle caught fire. Other visitors shot amateur footage of the car on fire. Helen Clements, who was in the car with her two children, said they were caught between wanting to escape the burning car while evading the lions.>>
    (NBC)- A British family was forced to flee their car inside a lion enclosure, after the vehicle caught fire. Other visitors shot amateur footage of the car on fire. Helen Clements, who was in the car with her two children, said they were caught between wanting to escape the burning car while evading the lions.
    >>
  • 10 More Bodies Found Inside South Korean Ferry; Hundreds Still Missing

    10 More Bodies Found Inside South Korean Ferry; Hundreds Still Missing

    Saturday, April 19 2014 11:00 PM EDT2014-04-20 03:00:36 GMT
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested. Yonhap says 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok was detained early Saturday. The ship, the Sewol, sank Wednesday, leaving hundreds missing and feared dead.>>
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested. Yonhap says 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok was detained early Saturday. The ship, the Sewol, sank Wednesday, leaving hundreds missing and feared dead.
    >>