Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Who laid the first egg? An update

Scientists move a step closer to linking embryos of earth's first animals and their adult form

A decade ago, Shuhai Xiao, associate professor of geosciences at Virginia Tech, and his colleagues discovered thousands of 600-million-year-old embryo microfossils in the Doushantuo Formation, a fossil site near Weng'an, South China. In 2000, Xiao's team reported the discovery of a tubular coral-like animal that might be a candidate for parenthood.

In the February issue of Geology, the journal of the Geological Society of America, Xiao will report discoveries about the intermediary stage that links the embryo to the adult. (Cover story "Rare helical spheroidal fossils from the Doushantuo Lagerstatte: Ediacaran animal embryos come of age?" by Xiao, James W. Hagadorn of Amherst, and Chuanming Zhou and Xunlai Yuan of Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology.)

While there are thousands of early-stage embryos, there are only 80 have been recovered that have advanced to an intermediary stage of development. The intermediary stage embryos have an envelope similar to that of earlier embryonic stage, and they have a coiled tubular embryo within the envelope. Their envelope has a groove on the surface, consisting of three clockwise coils. Using microfocus X-ray computed tomography (microCT) imaging, the scientists virtually peeled off the envelope and exposed the embryo inside. The tubular embryo is also coiled, with three clockwise coils. In some specimens, the scientists found signs of uncoiling. "This is further evidence that these embryos would have grown into the tubular organisms," Xiao said.

In the article, the researchers state, "… if this possibility holds up to further testing, the new fossils may bridge the developmental gap between two previously described Doushantuo forms."

"The discovery of additional intermediary stages and even more advanced specimens would be the ultimate test," Xiao said. But the conditions that preserved the ancient embryos may not have been favorable for preserving or fossilizing more developed life forms, the researchers note. Connecting the first moments of animal evolution will likely require more use of advanced imaging techniques.

Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Wandering greenhouse gas
16.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System
14.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>