From time to time, scientists discover more clues on the origins of animal life on Earth and the evolution of ancient organisms. In the most recent discovery, scientists believe they found the earliest animal trails on Earth, some marks that are 500 million years old.
The new finding is particularly exciting for the scientific community since it represents the first earlies animal trails on Earth that also have the fossils of the respective organisms alongside with them. In previous studies, the scientists had to guess what kind of animal left the trails, but in this new one, the researchers precisely know which organism was that involver in leaving those marks.
According to the study, the earliest animal trails on Earth recently found by scientists were due to small bugs called Yilingia spiciformis, named as such after the Chinese town located near the discovery site. These organisms could’ve reached to up to 4 inches in length and lived about 500 million years ago.
Scientists Identified The Earliest Animal Trails On Earth
“This discovery shows that segmented and mobile animals evolved by 550 million years ago. Mobility made it possible for animals to make an unmistakable footprint on Earth, both literally and metaphorically,” explained Shuhai Xiao, a geoscientist from the Virginia Tech College of Science.
Even more, the researchers think that the so-called Yilingia spiciformis were the first creatures on Earth that were capable of taking conscient decisions. And that was possible, maybe, thanks to a more sophisticated central nervous system that these bugs possessed, in comparison with other organisms of those times.
Also, the new study confirmed previous theories that the first moving animals on Earth appeared during the Ediacaran Period, about 540 million years ago. “When and how animal locomotion evolved defines an important geological and evolutionary context of anthropogenic impact on the surface of the Earth,” Shuhai Xiao added. And that’s why the discovery of the earliest animal trails on Earth is significant for science.