WASHINGTON: A strange fossil that looks a bit like a giant leaf, or a fingerprint the size of a coffee table, has intrigued scientists for decades, reports AFP.
Thousands of the fossils have been found over the past seven decades, revealing that it lived at the bottom of the ocean, without a mouth, intestines or anus, half a billion years ago.Was it a mossy plant? A giant single-celled amoeba? A failed experiment of evolution? Or the earliest animal on Earth? After digging one of these fossils off a cliff in Russia and analyzing its contents, researchers discovered molecules of cholesterol, a type of fat.
This confirms that the creature, known as Dickinsonia, is the Earth’s earliest known animal, said the report Thursday in the journal Science. “Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years” over the nature of these “bizarre fossils,” said associate professor Jochen Brocks from the Australian National University Research School of Earth Sciences.