Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Earliest Baby Animals Preserved in Ancient Volcanic Ash

The ash from a Pompeii-style volcanic eruption more than a half-billion years ago smothered a nursery of what may be some of the earliest known animals, researchers say.

These well-preserved findings shed light on the evolution of early life on Earth, and reinforce evidence suggesting that life became more complex earlier than often suspected, investigators added.

Scientists hunted for evidence of life from the mysterious Ediacaran period, when the first complex multicellular organisms appeared about 540 million to 635 million years ago. The life-forms from the Ediacaran are typically bizarre, and very difficult to link with any modern animal groups. In fact, just this week researchers announced they'd discovered tiny tracks from the earliest complex life, bilaterally symmetrical animals that looked like slugs.

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