Oldest ‘animal’ fossil ever

National Geographic reported this week on the discovery, in Namibia, of the oldest fossils yet found of a multicellular animal.

At 760 million years old, Otavia antiqua is described as a sponge-like multicellular organism about the size of a grain of rice. These organisms were incredibly hardy, remaining relatively unchanged for 200 million years, and surviving at least two ‘Snowball Earth‘ events.

The previous oldest organism was also a sponge, and had been dated to 650 million years.

These organisms represent the earliest ancestors of all the multicellular organisms which have arisen since, from Dinosaurs to Humans.

 

Image courtesy Anthony Prave, University of St. Andrews

 

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