News of the WeekPaleontology

Fossils Give Glimpse of Old Mother Lamprey

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Science  05 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5442, pp. 1064-1065
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5442.1064b

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Until now the oldest unambiguous vertebrate fossils dated back 475 million years, but this week Chinese and British paleontologists reported in Nature that they have found the fossils of 530-million-year-old vertebrates. And surprisingly, the fossils are not primitive, transitional forms as might be expected but are actually full-fledged vertebrates--more advanced, in fact, than some vertebrates alive today. As a result, paleontologists think fossils of even older vertebrates must be waiting to be discovered, perhaps in rocks dating from well before the so-called Cambrian explosion, when a huge diversity of animals appeared for the first time.