Among the thousands of impressions on the large rocky surface stood out the imprint of a hard tubular exoskeleton covered with undulating tentacles, now frozen in time and startlingly familiar.
It looked just like a relative of corals, anemones and jellyfish from a sedimentary layer dated 20 million years before such Cnidaria appeared.
Paleontologist Frankie Dunn of Oxford University’s Natural History Museum says: “This is unlike anything else we’ve found in the fossil record of that time. Most other fossils from that time have extinct body forms, and it’s not clear how they are related.” to live animals. Clearly it has a skeleton with thick tentacles that would wave into the water to catch passing food.”
The discovery itself was made in 2007 when researchers from the British Geological Society removed pieces of drywall from the Bradgate Formation in Charnwood Forest, a known fossil site outside of Leicester.
The rock itself is thought to be very old, dating from 557 to 562 million years ago. And it was a time of really strange creatures, long before the rich biodiversity of the collected body plans of the Cambrian explosion with which we are now more familiar.
The researchers took a block of richly decorated rock to study, and among the thousands of prints depicting a variety of ancient life forms, the structure seemed less outlandish than the rest.
This 20 cm creature, similar to what we might see when catching crustaceans passing by on modern coral reefs, is now the oldest example of a predator.
Dunn explained: “The Cambrian Explosion was wonderful. It is known as the time when the anatomy of living groups of animals was reformed for the next half a billion years. Our discovery shows that the cnidarian body plan [المرجان، وقنديل البحر، وشقائق النعمان، وما إلى ذلك]It was renovated at least 20 million years ago, so it’s very interesting and raises a lot of questions.”
The Ediacaran period is characterized by scattered and very strange fossils unlike anything living today. The new discovery supports the theory that this time period is also the dawn of modern animals. The seeds of at least one group of animals known to us today were first sown afterwards, just in time to really flourish and diversify during the fertile Cambrian.
So Dunn and his colleagues named the genus Auroralumina, which means “lantern of dawn.”
This strange and familiar creature shares characteristics with Cambrian cnidarians. However, unlike him, his tough exterior is smooth rather than embossed.
Researchers believe this lone little predator may have been swept into deeper waters from a shallow house on the side of a volcanic island by volcanic ash.
This study was published in Ecology of nature and evolution.
Source: Science Alert.