Scientists discover an abundance of 500,000-year-old fossils in China – BGR


The thing about fossils is that they are older, the more they are rare. The Earth does not keep anything forever and the more you go back in time, the less likely you are to find traces of the plants and animals that were alive at the time. So when we talk about fossils of creatures that died more than 500 million years ago, you can imagine how hard they are to find, but paleontologists in China have just hit the motherwort.

A new research paper published in Science details the discovery of tens of thousands of primitive specimens in ancient hardened sediments along a river in China. The site, called Qingjiang, is replete with evidence of soft-bodied creatures that, until now, have been lost in time.

Fossils of soft-bodied animals are notoriously difficult to find because soft tissues tend to deteriorate much too quickly to be fossilized. In contrast, shells and bones are more resistant to the test of time. The discovery of a multitude of sweet creatures is therefore a truly monumental thing for paleontologists.

As National Geographic explains, the thousands of specimens that were examined were identified as 101 different species. Even more amazing, more than half of them are entirely new to science.

Fossils are the remains of ancient sea creatures that settled on the seabed at the time of their death, overlapping with mud and sediment and gradually compressing into shale. As scientists peel the rock, they can see the ghostly shadows of the fossilized fabric that made up their body, like a window crossing time.

These creatures were among the first complex life forms on Earth. They appeared during the Cambrian period, when life on Earth began to diversify at a rapid pace. Scientists do not have the opportunity to find dozens of new species very often at the same time, so it's a rare pleasure.

Source of Image: D. Fu, et al. / Science


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