514 million years! Fossils of the oldest link animal branch to date emerge

The journal Nature recently published online the latest research results of the Yunnan Institute of Paleontology Research Key Laboratory team from Yunnan University’s Institute of Paleontology and colleagues from the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom: They found a new polymalet fossil in the Cambrian strata rich in soft body fossils in eastern Yunnan Province, about 514 million years ago.

514 million years! Fossils of the oldest link animal branch to date emerge

Author: Zhao Hanbin

The research shows that this animal belongs to the long-hand sandworm family of the present-born hairy gang, and is the earliest fossil record of the animal branch known to exist, which provides important evidence for understanding the early evolution of the animals in the link, and also reveals the ecological and morphological diversity of the animals in the Cambrian period.

“We were surprised to find a caterpillar worm 514 million years ago, which lives in a tube and is very similar to the species that are still alive today. Chen Hong, co-author of the paper and a doctoral student at Yunnan University, said.

The mussels, otters and sand silkworms are familiar to us and are widely distributed in terrestrial and marine ecosystems and play an important role. Hairy animals are one of the most abundant and evolutionaryally oldest species in the animals, and the body has pairs of warts with rigid hair, mainly living in the ocean. The study of early hairy animals has always been one of the hot topics to reveal the origin and early evolution of animals.

514 million years! Fossils of the oldest link animal branch to date emerge

Dannychaeta tucolus (Chen Hongtu) of Danny chaeta tucolus, an early hairy animal in the Cambrian period in Yunnan province

This latest paper describes a new genus of camomy called Danny docaterpillar. The Danidocaterpillar belongs to the long-hand sandworm sandworms in the living hairy animals, with a typical spade-shaped head and a pair of slender tentacles. This suggests that it and the living animal evolved from the same recent common ancestor, collectively known as the link animal crown group. And the previously reported Cambrian link animals are the original ancestors of the link animals.

“Living animals have a variety of life patterns in the modern ocean, including solid filterers or ambush predators. Previously known Cambrian animals may have crawled under the sea, whereas what we see in the Dannydo caterpillars is quite different. The findings of the Danydo caterpillars tell us that even in very early ecosystems, ancient animals have occupied many different ecological positions, said dr. Luke Parry of the University of Oxford, the paper’s co-lead author.