Home LATEST NEWS British researchers discover fossil of ‘oldest animal predator’

British researchers discover fossil of ‘oldest animal predator’


Researchers said Monday that the specimen, which has been named Auroralumina attenboroughii, is the oldest known creature to have had a skeleton. It is akin to the group that includes corals, jellyfish and anemones, they said.

Modern groups of animals, such as jellyfish, are usually assumed to have appeared 540 million years ago, during the Cambrian Explosion, said paleontologist Phil Wilby of the British Geological Survey. But this predator is 20 million years older.

He added that he is incredibly exciting to know that this fossil is one of those that may hold the key to when complex life began on Earth.

The fossil was found in Charnwood Forest near Leicester in central England, where Mr Attenborough once searched for fossils. The 96-year-old said to himself really enchanted by this tribute.

Frankie Dunn, from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, explained that this specimen is very different from other fossils found in Charnwood Forest and around the world.

Like most other fossils from the Cambrian period, Dunn said, this one clearly has a skeleton, and tentacles that twitch in the water to catch passing food, much like corals and sea anemones do today.

The Cambrian explosion occurred between 541 and 530 million years ago. This is a gigantic evolutionary push that has seen the emergence of a huge diversity of animals. Several creatures developed rigid components, like calcium carbonate shells, at this time.

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