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The Bigfella
08-18-2010, 02:28 AM
This is an interesting one...

THE oldest known animal life on Earth has been discovered in Australia, pushing back its origins by about 90 million years, research has suggested.

Tiny fossils measuring up to a centimetre across have been identified as sea sponges that lived about 650 million years ago, indicating that they survived a global ice catastrophe known as "Snowball Earth".

The remains, found by a team led by Adam Maloof, of Princeton University in New Jersey, are the oldest convincing fossils left behind by the bodies of primitive early animals.

As well as extending the prehistory of animal life, they indicate that it must have predated the last Snowball Earth event, in which most of the planet's surface iced over about 635 million years ago. This would overturn the prevailing idea that animals first emerged after this event.

"No one was expecting that we would find animals that lived before the (Snowball Earth) ice age," Dr Maloof said. "Since animals probably did not evolve twice, we are suddenly confronted with the question of how some relative of these reef-dwelling animals survived the Snowball Earth."

Before the new discovery, from the Trezona Formation of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, the oldest firm evidence for fossilised animal life came from a creature called Namacalathus, which lived about 550 million years ago. There is more controversial evidence for older fossils that are up to 572 million years old.

DNA evidence from sponges, however, has suggested that their origins predate this, and fats that appear to have been secreted by sponges have been dated to rocks from Oman from the same period as the Australian fossils. "There are now three separate lines of evidence for sponges before this Snowball Earth event," said Marc Laflamme, of Yale University.

Dr Maloof's team made the discovery by chance while studying rocks from the Snowball Earth episode known as the Marinoan glaciation. The research is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

"We were accustomed to finding rocks with embedded mud chips, and at first this is what we thought we were seeing," Dr Maloof said. "But then we noticed these repeated shapes that we were finding everywhere - wishbones, rings, perforated slabs and anvils. We realised we had stumbled upon some sort of organism."

The fossils were impossible to remove from their surrounding rock. To analyse them, digital models of them had to be created by a company in New York. The scientists shaved off 50 microns of rock at a time, and photographed each new face. The pictures were then digitally combined to make three-dimensional images.

http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2010/08/17/1225906/544529-fossil.jpg

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/south-australian-fossils-reveal-oldest-known-animal-life-researchers/story-e6frg8y6-1225906718643

martin schulz
08-18-2010, 02:35 AM
Can't be true, of course since the bible says the world is approximately only 5000 years old ;)

skuthorp
08-18-2010, 02:37 AM
Great find Ian, I wonder what still remains to be found. Snowball earth eh? Now that's what I call a climate change!
Going to watch the 'debate' tonight, we mercifully don't have pay TV.

The Bigfella
08-18-2010, 02:38 AM
Gee, I'd forgotten about it... better go find out the details

skuthorp
08-18-2010, 03:06 AM
So the mammoths ran out of grass, well it doesn't look too good for us either. Global warming, we'll run out of ice, Warm whisky? Yuk!

m2c1Iw
08-18-2010, 03:12 AM
Ah ha confirms the suspicions of many that South Australians are indeed from a long line of old stick in the muds.

AussieBarney
08-18-2010, 05:29 AM
Ah ha confirms the suspicions of many that South Australians are indeed from a long line of old stick in the muds.
And had the brains of a sponge

doorstop
08-18-2010, 05:32 AM
OY!!!
Us souf orstrayans is not sticks inna mud! We jus a bit slower than sum... a bit

The Bigfella
08-18-2010, 05:35 AM
And had the brains of a sponge

Ouch

Pugwash
08-18-2010, 07:25 AM
You know the economy is bad when a furniture maker has to take a second job as a paleontologist.

Paul Pless
08-18-2010, 07:28 AM
Warm whisky? Yuk!worse than warm beer???

purri
08-18-2010, 09:22 PM
Is this what passes for palaeocon icongraphy?

The Bigfella
08-18-2010, 09:27 PM
I think its known as an argument now... from Uncle Rupert's paper today comes this... another 20 million years.

CLAIMS by US geoscientists that they have discovered the oldest known animal life have been greeted with scepticism by Australian experts

Paleontologists such as Jim Gehling with the South Australian Museum say it is no surprise that simple sponge-like animals lived 600-650 million years ago, as reported yesterday in the journal Nature Geoscience. But they are far from convinced they are what the Princeton University team has found.

"To argue these were sponges is a difficult proposition. They look like Coco Pops, " said Dr Gehling.

Moreover, Dr Gehling said better, older fossils had been found three years ago by University of Melbourne geologist Malcolm Wallace and his team. Dr Gehling suggested that competitive pressure might have been the reason Dr Wallace's group has been unable to publish their results.

The Australian understands that one of the co-authors of the contentious paper is a reviewer for the journal Science, to which Dr Wallace's group has submitted a paper. It is not clear whether the reviewer has read the paper but Dr Wallace acknowledged that "we've had difficulties getting our results published". He preferred not to discuss Dr Gehling's suspicions. He did affirm that his group's finds were roughly 20 million years older than those reported by the Princeton team, headed by paleontologist Adam Maloof.

Along with colleagues at New Jersey-based Princeton and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, Professor Maloof reported that calcified material found in limestone rocks in the Flinders Ranges of SA were probably "sponge-grade metazoans" -- simple multi-celled animals.

But Dr Gehling said the the tiny fragments described as sponges by Professor Maloof and his colleagues were poor candidates for the oldest animal honours.

Dr Gehling said Dr Wallace's team had found "definite fossils", centimetres in size. He said the Melbourne fossils came from what had been a deepwater reef, while the Princeton group's material was from what was then highly disturbed shallow water.

botebum
08-18-2010, 09:30 PM
Typical anti-Christian stuff. You hate us because Gawd has made us free.

Hah! Beat Lil' Mikey to it:d

Doug

brad9798
08-18-2010, 09:33 PM
GREAT thread, Ian!

Very interesting ...

And of course, someone has to bring up the Bible ... like it is a literal history ... :rolleyes:

AussieBarney
08-19-2010, 06:18 AM
GREAT thread, Ian!

Very interesting ...

And of course, someone has to bring up the Bible ... like it is a literal history ... :rolleyes:
But it is!!! my priest told me so and he wouldn't lie, would he???

doorstop
08-19-2010, 04:36 PM
Bend over Barney, this won't hurt! ;)

brad9798
08-19-2010, 07:49 PM
But it is!!! my priest told me so and he wouldn't lie, would he???

IF you are implying a Catholic Priest, then it is obvious you are just a sh*t disturber ... Catholics are NOT Bible literalists ... but thanks for being a smart-butt anyway ... and disrespectful at that! You too, doorstop!

:(

AussieBarney
08-20-2010, 06:11 AM
IF you are implying a Catholic Priest, then it is obvious you are just a sh*t disturber ... Catholics are NOT Bible literalists ... but thanks for being a smart-butt anyway ... and disrespectful at that! You too, doorstop!

:(
I was once smacked hard enough to break my nose by a priest for questioning his dogmatic crap, so I love being disrespectful to the priesthood. Paybacks are a bitch mate. Anyone who makes a living peddling that religous crap should be locked up for fraud. There is nothing in that book that can stand any sort of logical scrutiny. It was written by a mob of semi-literate goatherders 1600 years ago End of Rant.