News of the WeekPaleontology

Earliest Animal Tracks or Just Mud Cracks?

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Science  15 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5558, pp. 1209
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5558.1209a

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Two groups report in the February issue of Geology that putative worm tracks in sandstone from central India previously dated to 1.1 billion years ago are in fact a whopping 1.6 billion years old. That predates the earliest generally accepted trace fossil of a complex animal--dated at 575 million years ago--by about a billion years. To some researchers, such a long gap strains credulity. Instead of traces of life, they are now seeing meaningless doodlings in ancient, squishy muds.