Tiny fossil suggests primate life existed much earlier than first thought.
Although only approximately 500 micrometer square (small!) the sponge-like fossil is not related to modern sponges.
The interesting thing it the fossil pre-dates the Cambrian explosion, the relatively short evolutionary event, beginning around 542 million years ago in the during which most major animal phyla appeared.
Chinese scientists have discovered a 600 million-year-old sponge-like fossil that predates existing findings of primitive animals by 60 million years.
The Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Monday said the tiny fossil measuring two to three cubic millimeters was found in the Weng’an biota in southwest province of Guizhou.
The fossil was recovered from rocks in the early Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation in South China. The specimen is tiny. The fossil is approximately 500 micrometers square.
There is sufficient evidence to identify this fossil as the only known sponge or sponge relative that dates before the Cambrian period. The fossil is not considered the common ancestor of sponges and related animals but does indicate that these species existed much earlier in history than previously thought