The Works of Living Social Insects as Pseudofossils and the Age of the Oldest Known Metazoa

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Science  28 Nov 1980:
Vol. 210, Issue 4473, pp. 1013-1015
DOI: 10.1126/science.210.4473.1013


Living organisms are known to create structures in ancient rocks that are indigenous but not primary and that have been mistaken for fossils. Examination of burrows recently reported as fossils from 109-year-old sedimentary rocks indicates that they are not the same age as the rocks but were probably made by termites working down after water. The burrows are partially filled with material from a modern lateritic surface from which they descend into steeply dipping, decomposed silt-stones of the Zambian Copperbelt. In fact, no authentic record of Metazoa that are demonstrably coeval with rocks older than 680 million years is known.