Unusually preserved fossils shed new light on how macroscopic, complex life evolved and lived 550 million years ago
Scientists interested in ancient life have a wealth of fossils and impressions frozen in rocks that they can study from as far back as 540 million years ago – when animals with shells and bones began to become plentiful. But evidence of complex life older than 540 million years is scant and difficult to study.
Now, a research team from Virginia Tech in the United States and Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology in China has discovered uniquely well-preserved fossils form from 550 million year old rocks of the Ediacaran Period. Shuhai Xiao, geoscientist from Virginia Tech, with Bing Shen, a Virginia Tech graduate student, and Chuanming Zhou, Guwei Xie, and Xunlai Yuan, all of the Nanjing Instititue of Geology and Paleontology, report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the discovery of these unusually preserved fossils which reveal unprecedented information about the body construction of macroscopic organisms more than half billion years ago. The article has been published in the PNAS Online Early Edition the week of July 11 - 15, 2005.
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