The Cambrian explosion is feted because the second the place complicated animals burst onto the scene, however the enigmatic Ediacaran creatures that got here first are rewriting the historical past of life on Earth


6 November 2019

leaf-like rangeomorphs

The leaf-like rangeomorphs, the biggest of which grew to 2 metres in top, are actually thought to have been a few of the earliest animals

Richard Bizley/Science Photograph

LIFE appeared on our planet greater than 3.5 billion years in the past and consisted solely of microbes for the subsequent Three billion years. Then, about 539 million years in the past, all the things modified.

Within the geological blink of an eye fixed, the seas had been stuffed with giant and sophisticated animals, together with worms with legs and fearsome spikes, creatures with a trunk-like nostril and 5 eyes, and large shrimp-like predators with mouths like pineapple rings.

This evolutionary starburst is named the Cambrian explosion. It is likely one of the most important moments in life’s historical past on Earth as a result of it’s the level at which species that are clearly associated to in the present day’s animals first appeared. It’s seen as evolution’s big bang.


However over the previous few years, geologists have begun to have second ideas. Newly found fossils and cautious evaluation of ones discovered many years in the past recommend that animals had been thriving within the interval earlier than the Cambrian. Consequently, some individuals are actually arguing that the explosion of animal life began about 12 million years earlier. Others are questioning whether or not it’s potential to outline a definite explosion in any respect.

You would be forgiven for pondering that shifting the daybreak of the animal revolution from 539 to 551 million years in the past isn’t that big a deal. However evolution can do so much in that size of time: all the span of human evolution most likely matches inside …


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