Many scientists believe that the oldest groups of animals on Earth included soft sponges or sponge-like organisms devoid of muscles and nerves, but they showed other characteristics of simple animals, including cells with divergent functions and sperm.
Admittedly, there is very little scientific consensus or certainty about what may have been a billion years old, so other researchers will likely continue to examine and debate Ms. Turner’s findings.
“I think it has a very solid record. I think it deserves to be published? It makes the evidence available to other people,” said David Poetger, a paleontologist at the University of Southern California, who was not involved in the research.
Soft sponge is hard to petrify
Scientists believe that life on Earth appeared about 3.7 billion years ago. The first animals appeared much later, but scientists still do not agree on when.
To date, the oldest undisputed fossil sponge dates back to about 540 million years ago, during the Cambrian period. But scientists using the “molecular clock” estimate that sponges appeared much earlier, about a billion years ago – although there is no physical evidence to support this thesis yet.
“This will be the first time a sponge fossil has been found before the Cambrian, and not just before that, but long before that – which is the most exciting,” said Professor Cardenas, adding that the research appears to confirm estimates of the molecules clockwise.
Fossil evidence was scarce before the Cambrian, when animals first developed hard skeletons, exoskeletons, and shells, which are likely preserved in the ground.
“These types of fossils belong to more complex fauna – obviously there must be a narrative” of simpler animals, such as sponges, that first appeared on Earth, said Elizabeth Turner, author of the article.
Dating back to 890 million years ago is significant, because if the identification of sponges is confirmed, it shows that the first animals evolved before a time when oxygen in the atmosphere and oceans reached a level that scientists thought was necessary for animal life. . However, recent research shows that some sponges can survive on very little oxygen.
“Everything on Earth has an ancestor. The first evidence of animal life has always been expected to be small and cryptic, which is very accurate evidence,” said Roger Sommons, a geologist at MIT, who was also not involved in the research.
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