Feeds

Oldest skeleton found in South Australia

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

Business security measures using SSL

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
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.