News of the WeekPaleontology

Tracks of Billion-Year-Old Animals?

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Science  02 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5386, pp. 19-21
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5386.19b

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On page 80, an international team of scientists argues that wiggly grooves on the surface of ancient sandstone from central India are the tracks of burrowing, half-centimeter-thick, wormlike animals. In February, new fossil embryos from China pushed the first appearance of multicellular animals back tens of millions of years to just before 600 million years ago (Science, 6 February, p. 803), and some molecular biologists sorting through animals' genes have inferred an even earlier origin. Now the new find may extend the fossil record of animals more than 400 million years to 1.1 billion years ago, supporting the oldest molecular estimates of the origins of animals.