Paleontologists joined the family album of humanity another picture of our probable ancestor. Perhaps the oldest found at the moment. Examining discovered in one of the provinces of Shanghai (China) 45 ancient fossils the size of a single grain of rice, scientists have concluded that these fossils belong to a previously unknown species of living organisms and, moreover, to what extent are the earliest ancestor of animals and humans.
Encountered the beings was given the name Saccorhytus coronaries. They are similar in appearance to the "toothed bag", as may be seen by looking at the image above and below. It is believed that these tiny ancestors of vertebrates were marine life, and lived in the era of the Cambrian period, about 540 million years ago. Their detection allows to fill gaps in the evolutionary chain of the group of multicellular organisms, called vtorichnaya. Have such beings in the process of embryonic development formed first anal hole and then mouth. This group, along with starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and acorn worms, a class of animals are including the closest animals to man and man himself.
During the Cambrian period, these primitive vtorichnaya quickly split into a huge number of diverse groups. Evidence of the existence of such ancient organisms found earlier — in the rock, Dating back 510-520 million years — however, strong differences between groups, combined with their rapid division have created difficulties in understanding how it could look like the very first vtorichnaya. With the same opening picture for paleontologists became much clearer.
Somewhat symmetrical fossils of millimeter lengths can recall a scary mask. The large hole in the middle, most likely, was the mouth of the animal. All signs point to the fact that this little one could open it very wide and thus catch very large for its size prey. Available folds on the surface can say that the animal had very thin skin and muscle tissue, allowing it to move and dig, and get out of the sand of the seabed. Numerous protruding spines with holes, quite possibly, played the role of the nasal aperture, and allowed to release excess water and waste. The researchers also suggested that these holes could also be a kind of prehistoric prototype faringealny slots, which later became gills of fish and eventually purchased the form our modern ears.
"We think that this kind vtorichnaya may be the primitive form of this group, which subsequently divided into a plurality of subtypes and initiated the development of many other groups, including the one which includes people. To the naked eye, these fossils may seem simple tiny dark grains, but under the microscope the level of detail is becoming incredible. All vtorichnaya had a common ancestor, and we think that we are just at it and look" — explains researcher Simon Conway Morris of Cambridge University.
Scientists also note that it is unlikely we will be able to hold the line of our ancestry until Saccorhytus coronaries, as in the more usual understanding of this amazing animal is more of our "very ancient aunt" bathed "very old Granny."
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