Feeds

Oldest skeleton found in South Australia

500 million year old fossil like ‘a thimble with needles’

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Researchers from the University of California Riverside and the South Australian Museum have turned up a surprising creature more than half a billion years old, showing signs of a skeleton.

The find, called Coronacollina acula, is the oldest fossil so far discovered to show signs of ‘hard structure’ development, the researchers say.

A UC Riverside reconstruction of Coronacollina acula.

Image: Daniel Garson/Droser lab, UC Riverside

According to UC Riverside professor Mary Droser, it’s the first fossil to show “skeletal body parts” in pre-Cambrian specimens. The Cambrian period from 542-488 million years ago, showed a huge diversification of life, while the Coronacollina acula specimen dates from the Ediacaran period, from 630-542 million years ago.

Droser also says the fossil provides a link between the two periods, “a precursor of organisms seen in the Cambrian. This is tremendously exciting because it’s the first appearance of one of the major novelties of animal evolution”.

The creature, a sponge-like animal that may have grown as large as 5 cm, isn’t observed directly: it’s spotted as a small depression in fossils. Living on the sea floor, the scientists believe the 20-to-40 needle-like ‘spicules’ attached to help support the structure.

While its sponge-like body didn’t survive the millions of years that have passed, the spicules did: they became mineralized.

Coronacollina acula was immobile, and while it was gregarious (with hundreds living together, according to Droser), its reproduction remains a mystery.

The research is published in the journal Geology (abstract). ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.