British paleontologists have discovered the body prints of the oldest jellyfish on Earth in areas of central England.
The journal Nature Ecology & Evolution indicates that this ancient creature is 557 million years old, and was named after the famous scientist David Attenborough.
The researchers say: “Stinging animals are one of the oldest creatures on Earth, the stages of development of which in the Cambrian period have been studied in detail. We also found traces of the body of an ancient jellyfish that lived before the Ediacaran period. first evidence that stinging animals lived before the Cambrian period.”
It should be noted that most modern groups and species of animals appeared about 540-520 million years ago, during the so-called Cambrian explosion – a sharp acceleration in evolution and an increase in the diversity of multicellular organisms. During this period, the ancestors of worms, insects, fish, various invertebrates and vertebrates that live on Earth arose.
This was preceded by the appearance of marine sponges, the fossils of which have been found in the Ediacaran deposits. According to geneticists, jellyfish and other marine stinging invertebrates, including hydras and corals, as well as the ancestors of modern combmen, appeared during this period.
A team of British paleontologists have unearthed the oldest body prints of a jellyfish known to scientists during ongoing excavations in Charnwood Forest, which lived on Earth 557 million years ago. This animal looks like a hybrid of a jellyfish and a coral. Because his body resembles a characteristic shape of a jellyfish, but it is divided into several polyps, which are similar in structure to coral reefs.
Based on the results of subsequent studies, the researchers hypothesize that this animal is the common ancestor of all current species of jellyfish. Therefore, these fossils are very important for studying the evolution of the first multicellular creatures that appeared on Earth.
The scientists named this animal Auroralumina attenboroughii, which means “Attenborough Dawn Lantern”. The researchers explained that the first name reflects the shape of the lantern, while the second is in honor of the famous scientist David Attenborough, who helped popularize other discoveries made in Charnwood Forest.