Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers say animal-like embryos preceded animal appearance

28.11.2019

Animals evolved from single-celled ancestors before diversifying into 30-40 distinct anatomical designs. When and how animal ancestors made the transition from single-celled microbes to complex multicellular organisms is unclear. But a new scientific study suggests animal-like embryological traits developed long before animals themselves.

The research - by an international research team led by scientists from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) and the University of Bristol - focused on ancient fossils of Caveasphaera, a multicellular organism found in 609-million-year-old rocks in South China's Guizhou Province that defies easy definition as animal or non-animal.


Three-dimensional reconstruction of a Caveasphaera specimen, showing cell structures.

Credit: NIGPAS

Using X-ray microscopy, the researchers analyzed the tiny fossils, which measure about a half-millimeter in diameter and were preserved down to their component cells. Various fossils displayed different stages of Caveasphaera development - from a single cell to a multicellular organism.

"We were able to sort the fossils into growth stages, reconstructing the embryology of Caveasphaera," said Kelly Vargas from the University of Bristol.

YIN Zongjun of NIGPAS interpreted the discovery: "Our results show that Caveasphaera sorted its cells during embryo development in just the same way as living animals, including humans." YIN emphasized, however, there is "no evidence that these embryos developed into more complex organisms."

Still, the discovery offers the earliest evidence of a key step in the evolution of animals - the capacity to develop distinct tissue layers and organs.

The verdict still seems to be out on whether Caveasphaera was itself an animal or just an important step in animal evolution, even as researchers search for more fossils. Co-author ZHU Maoyan of NIGPAS said, "Caveasphaera looks a lot like the embryos of some starfish and corals - we don't find the adult stages simply because they are harder to fossilize."

Whatever Caveasphaera turns out to be, its fossils tell us that animal-like embryonic development evolved long before the oldest definitive animals appeared in the fossil record.

###

This research was funded through the Biosphere Evolution, Transitions and Resilience (BETR) programme, which is co-funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

Media Contact

CHEN Xiaozheng
chxzh@nigpas.ac.cn

http://english.cas.cn/ 

CHEN Xiaozheng | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Environment Research embryos fossils multicellular single cell

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht NTU Singapore scientists convert plastics into useful chemicals using su
12.12.2019 | Nanyang Technological University

nachricht Eavesdropping on the human microbiome uncovers 'potent' new antibiotics
12.12.2019 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly charged ion paves the way towards new physics

In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.

Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...

Im Focus: Ultrafast stimulated emission microscopy of single nanocrystals in Science

The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.

Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...

Im Focus: How to induce magnetism in graphene

Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...

Im Focus: Electronic map reveals 'rules of the road' in superconductor

Band structure map exposes iron selenide's enigmatic electronic signature

Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...

Im Focus: Developing a digital twin

University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Safer viruses for vaccine research and diagnosis

12.12.2019 | Health and Medicine

NTU Singapore scientists convert plastics into useful chemicals using su

12.12.2019 | Life Sciences

Studies show integrated strategies work best for buffelgrass control

12.12.2019 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>