Researchers from the University of Adelaide have found well-preserved fossils in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges region that could rewrite the natural history of Earth. A variety of previously unknown species lived together in ancient ecosystems around 500 million years ago, suggesting the evolution of complex life may have happened earlier than previously thought. The scientists identified both flat, frond-shaped organisms like the Ediacaran and others with complex features including the Kimbrella, which had a clearly defined head and tail and serrations across its body believed to be used for defence.
Unusual Fossils Found in Australian Outback Could Rewrite Natural History
Australia is home to a vast array of unique fauna and flora. However, the continent also boasts some extraordinary geological features that are equally awe-inspiring. Recently, scientists have uncovered unusual fossils in the Australian Outback that could potentially rewrite the natural history books. These fossils point to the existence of previously unknown species that lived together in ancient ecosystems.
Discovery of Unusual Fossils
In 2016, a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide discovered a series of well-preserved fossils in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges region. The fossils were first thought to belong to plant species that were alive during the 500 million years of Earth’s history. They were identified as Ediacarans, a collection of fossilized soft-bodied multicellular organisms that lived during the Ediacaran period, approximately 635 to 542 million years ago.
The Ediacarans are interesting to scientists because they are some of the earliest animals to have existed on Earth. However, the fossils the University of Adelaide team found were different from the Ediacarans they had previously studied. These fossils were far more complex than any they had seen before, exhibiting a variety of unusual shapes and forms.
Unusual Fossil Features
The researchers named the new species found Kimbrella and described a soft-bodied, worm-like creature that ranges from two to seven centimeters long. They observed that Kimbrella had a clearly-defined head and tail, as well as a series of serrations covering its body, which researchers believe were used for defense. Another three new species were discovered with similarly complex features.
Kimbrella’s features stand in contrast to Ediacaran fossils already known, which are generally flat, frond-shaped and lack clearly defined heads, tails and internal organs.
Implications of the Discovery
The discovery of these new species could rewrite the timeline of evolutionary history on Earth. Previously, scientists believed that complex organisms with features like heads, tails, and segmented bodies did not evolve until much later in Earth’s history. However, the discovery of Kimbrella and other complex species in the Ediacaran period suggests that the evolution of complex life on Earth may have happened earlier than previously thought.
The discovery could reveal that ancient ecosystems hosted many more complex organisms than scientists have previously expected to find. These new species could shed light on the evolution of early life, as well as give new insights into the environmental changes that drove the emergence of more complex creatures.
Q. What is an Ediacaran?
An Ediacaran is a type of multicellular organism that lived during the Ediacaran period, approximately 635 to 542 million years ago. They are some of the earliest animals to have existed on Earth.
Q. What is Kimbrella?
Kimbrella is the name given to a recently discovered species of soft-bodied, worm-like creature that lived during the Ediacaran period. Kimbrella is unlike any Ediacaran species previously studied, exhibiting complex features such as a clearly-defined head and tail, and serrations covering its body.
Q. What implications does the discovery of Kimbrella have?
The discovery of Kimbrella and other complex species in the Ediacaran period could rewrite the timeline of evolutionary history on Earth, suggesting that the evolution of complex life may have happened earlier than previously thought.
Q. What insights could these new species bring?
These new species could shed light on the evolution of early life and give new insights into the environmental changes that drove the emergence of more complex creatures in ancient ecosystems.