The discovery of strange spherical fossils in China point out to the earliest earthlings. These fossilized remains are believed to be more than 600 million years old and they are not single celled bacteria. They could be animal embryos or remains of multicellular algae considering the high level of complexity and differentiation.
When did multicellular life first evolve? Geo biologists’ could have the answer soon. Researchers have unearthed evidence of multi-cellular life appearing on the planet some 600 million years ago. This is some 60 million years earlier to the appearance of skeletal animals which appeared in a sudden spurt of life on the planet, known as the Cambrian Explosion.
Researchers who were trying to unravel the mystery of the earliest appearance of multicellular life forms were examining the phosphorite rocks from the Doushantuo Formation in South China. They unearthed preserved multicellular fossils that showed signs of cell-to-cell adhesion, differentiation and programmed cell death. All these hint at the possibility of it being remains of complex multicellular eukaryotes, such as animals and plants.The details of the study has been published in the journal Nature.
Shuhai Xiao, one of the researchers, in a news release said, “This opens up a new door for us to shine some light on the timing and evolutionary steps that were taken by multi-cellular organisms that would eventually go on to dominate the Earth in a very visible way. Fossils similar to these have been interpreted as bacteria, single-cell eukaryotes, algae and transitional forms related to modern animals such as sponges, sea anemones or bilaterally symmetrical animals. This paper lets us put aside some of those interpretations.”
The scientists plan to focus on a broader paleontological search in order to recreate the complete lifestyle of the fossils.