Scientists have discovered an ancient fossil, a tiny wormlike creature that lived about 555 million years ago, according to a new study.
“It’s the earliest ‘bilaterian’… which is an organism with a front and back, two symmetrical sides and openings at either end connected by a gut,” scientists from the University of California said in a statement.
The tiny fossil, which is as little as a grain of rice, was discovered in Australia. Scientists said it was very rare to find a preservation of the small, soft-bodied organisms themselves. They usually come up with the traces of fossils and the tracks they left behind, but not something like this.
“It’s the oldest fossil we get with this type of complexity,” UCR geologist and study co-author Mary Droser said.
The scientists was able to locate the tube-like organisms in a former seabed in present-day Australia through high-tech 3-D laser scanning.
UCR reported that “bilateral symmetry” was a critical step in the evolution of animal life as it provided organisms to move purposefully well and it served to be a successful way to organize their bodies.
“A multitude of animals, from worms to insects to dinosaurs to humans, are organized around this same basic body plan,” according to the UCR statement.
The tiny creature was later on given the Latin name Ikaria wariootia, after Ikara, an indigenous Australian word for “meeting place,” and Warioota, which is the name of a local creek.
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