The Cambrian explosion is feted as evolution’s large bang, 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 largest of which grew to 2 metres in peak, 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.

In the geological blink of a watch, the seas had been full of giant and complex 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’s considered one of the most vital moments in life’s historical past on Earth as a result of it’s the level at which species that are clearly associated to at present’s animals first appeared. It’s seen as evolution’s large bang.


However over the previous few years, geologists have begun to have second ideas. Newly found fossils and cautious evaluation of ones discovered a long time in the past recommend that animals had been thriving in the interval earlier than the Cambrian. In consequence, some folks 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 could possibly be forgiven for considering that shifting the daybreak of the animal revolution from 539 to 551 million years in the past isn’t that large a deal. However evolution can do rather a lot in that size of time: the total span of human evolution in all probability suits inside …


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