Menu
Space exploration
Astronomers Discover Houdini-Like Vanishing Act in Space

Most Accurate Robotic Legs Mimic Human Walking Gait

Spaceflight May Extend the Lifespan of Microscopic Worm

Arctic Warming Linked to Combination of Reduced Sea Ice and Global Atmospheric Warming

World's Fastest Camera Used to Detect Rogue Cancer Cells

Keeping the Flu Away: Synthetic Protein Activates Immune System Within Two Hours

'MRI' of the Sun's Interior Motions Challenges Existing Explanations for Sunspots

Sounds of Northern Lights Are Born Close to Ground

Belching Black Hole Proves a Biggie: First Known 'Middleweight' Black Hole

Technique Spots Disease Using Immune Cell DNA

Pompeii-Style Volcanic Ash Fall Preserved 'Nursery' of Earliest Animals

Cutting Daily Sitting Time to Under Three Hours Might Extend Life by Two Years

Greater Diet-Induced Obesity in Rats Consuming Sugar Solution During the Inactive Period

Rising Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere Also Speeds Carbon Loss from Forest Soils

Climate Change May Lead to Fewer but More Violent Thunderstorms

New Biofuel Process Dramatically Improves Energy Recovery, and Uses Agricultural Waste

Toward Achieving One Million Times Increase in Computing Efficiency

Hubble Unmasks Ghost Galaxies

New Parasitic Coral Reef Crustacean Named After Late Reggae Performer Bob Marley

The Old Primates' Club: Even Male Monkeys Ride Their Fathers' Coattails to Success

Data Storage of Tomorrow: Ferroelectricity On the Nanoscale

One Smart Egg: Birds Sense Day Length and Change Development

Dark Galaxies of the Early Universe Spotted for the First Time

Not So Happy: King Penguins Stressed by Human Presence

Nanodevice Builds Electricity from Tiny Pieces

Pompeii-Style Volcanic Ash Fall Preserved 'Nursery' of Earliest Animals
A volcanic eruption around 579 million years ago buried a 'nursery' of the earliest-known animals under a Pompeii-like deluge of ash, preserving them as fossils in rocks in Newfoundland, new research suggests.

A team from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in collaboration with the Memorial University of Newfoundland, looked for evidence of life from the mysterious Ediacaran period (635-542 million years ago) in which the first 'animals' -- complex multicellular organisms -- appeared.

The team discovered over 100 fossils of what are believed to be 'baby' rangeomorphs; bizarre frond-shaped organisms which lived 580-550 million years ago and superficially resemble sea-pen corals but, on closer inspection, are unlike any creature alive today. This 'nursery' of baby rangeomorphs was found in rocks at the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland, Canada.

A report of the research will appear in the July issue of the Journal of the Geological Society.

The fossil remains of rangeomorphs are often described as 'fern-like' and where exactly they fit in the tree of life is unclear. Because they lived deep beneath the ocean where there would have been no light they are not thought to be plants but they may not have had all of the characteristics of animals. Mysteriously, their frond-shaped body-plan, which might have helped them gather oxygen or food, does not survive into the Cambrian period (542-488 million years ago).

'The fossilised 'babies' we found are all less than three centimetres long and are often as small as six millimetres; many times smaller than the 'parent' forms, seen in neighbouring areas, which can reach up to two metres in length,' said Professor Martin Brasier of Oxford University's Department of Earth Sciences, one of the authors of the report. 'This new discovery comes from the very bottom of the fossil-bearing rocks, making it one of the oldest bedding planes to preserve 'animal' fossils in the whole of the geological record.

'We think that, around 579 million years ago, an underwater 'nursery' of baby Ediacaran fronds was overwhelmed, Pompeii-style, by an ash fall from a volcanic eruption on a nearby island that smothered and preserved them for posterity.'

Dr Alexander Liu of Cambridge University's Department of Earth Sciences, an author of the report, said: 'These juveniles are exceptionally well preserved, and include species never before found in rocks of this age, increasing the known taxonomic diversity of the earliest Ediacaran fossil sites. The discovery confirms a remarkable variety of rangeomorph fossil forms so early in their evolutionary history.'

The find reinforces the idea that 'life got large' around 580 million years ago, with the advent of these frond-like forms, some of which grew up -- in better times -- to reach almost two metres in length.

Professor Brasier said: 'We are now exploring even further back in time to try and discover exactly when these mysterious organisms first appeared and learn more about the processes that led to their diversification in an 'Ediacaran explosion' that may have mirrored the profusion of new life forms we see in the Cambrian.'

Для печати
Mechanical Engineers Develop an 'Intelligent Co-Pilot' for Cars

Lab-Engineered Muscle Implants Restore Function in Animals

Engineering Technology Reveals Eating Habits of Giant Dinosaurs

Protein Found in Spider Venom Could Treat Muscular Dystrophy

Force of Nature: Defining the Mechanical Mechanisms in Living Cells

Neurons Derived from Cord Blood Cells May Represent New Therapeutic Option

Coastal Populations Are Healthier Than Those Inland, UK Study Finds

Largest Ancient Dam Built by Maya in Central America

World Record: Lightest Material in the World Produced

Infants' Recognition of Speech More Sophisticated Than Previously Known

In Visual Searches, Computer Is No Match for the Human Brain

Musical Glove Improves Sensation, Mobility for People With Spinal Cord Injury

New Evidence Links Immune Irregularities to Autism, Mouse Study Suggests


Menu
The More Gray Matter You Have, the More Altruistic You Are

Hubble Discovers a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto

One Step Closer to New Kind of Thermoelectric 'Heat Engine'

Native American Populations Descend from Three Key Migrations, Scientists Say

Trigger for Past Rapid Sea Level Rise Discovered

Skulls Shed New Light On the Evolution of the Cat

Transforming Cancer Into a Manageable Illness With Multi-Drug Approach

The Eyes Don't Have It: New Research Into Lying and Eye Movements

Giant Fossil Turtle from Colombia Round Like Car Tire

Fossil Egg Links Dinosaurs to Modern Birds

Viruses May Be Causing Coral Bleaching and Decline Around the World

Peering Into the Heart of a Supernova: How to Detect a Rapidly Spinning Stellar Core

Physicists Invent 'Spintronic' LED

Newly Isolated 'Beige Fat' Cells Could Help Fight Obesity

Study: Wolverines Need Refrigerators

Solar System Ice: Source of Earth's Water

Attacking Biofilms That Cause Chronic Infections

Discovery of Chemical That Affects Biological Clock Offers New Way to Treat Diabetes

Vaccines Backfire: Veterinary Vaccines Found to Combine Into New Infectious Viruses

Antarctica at Risk from Human Activities

Large, Medically Important Class of Proteins Starts to Yield Its Secrets

Early Human Ancestor, Australopithecus Sediba, Fossils Discovered in Rock

First Ever Videos of Snow Leopard Mother and Cubs in Dens Recorded in Mongolia

Messy Experiment Cleans Up Cornstarch and Water Mystery

Controlling Your Computer With Your Eyes