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Virginia Tech, Nanjing Institute researchers discover half-billion year-old fossils

the calcite crystals that replicate the tubes. They believe that the crystals were emplaced shortly after the death, burial, and decay of the Ediacara organisms, thus replicating the three-dimensional shape of the tubular structures.

How did these Ediacara organisms live? "We think that the fossils were preserved where they lived. In other words, they had not been transported a long way from their deathbed to their graveyard." Zhou said, "And the way they occur in the rocks suggests that they were flat-lying organisms sprawling on the ocean floor 550 million years ago, much like some fungi, lichen, or algae do today."

The resemblance to modern fungi, lichen, or algae may stop at the seemingly similar life position on ocean floor. "In fact, the morphology of the new fossils is unlike any living macroscopic life," Xiao said, "and at this time it is still uncertain how the Ediacara fossils from South China are related to other Ediacara organisms and to living organisms."

But the new fossils surely will enlighten the ongoing debate on the nature of Ediacara organisms that lived just before the evolution of familiar animals about 540-520 million years ago.


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Source:Virginia Tech


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