News of the WeekPaleontology

Earliest Animals Growing Younger?

Science  16 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5413, pp. 412
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5413.412a

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Citing ancient fossil worm tracks from central India, researchers last fall pushed the age of the first animals back from 600 million years old to a startling 1.1 billion years. But claims and counterclaims later tugged the apparent age of animals back and forth between truly ancient and more conventionally old. In the latest set of twists, reported last month at a workshop in Lucknow, India, new radiometric dates nudged the pendulum back toward a relatively young age--about 620 million years--for the fossil tracks. At the same time, workshop participants firmly rejected the fossil evidence originally used to suggest a younger age.