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). ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.