500 Million-Year-Old Creature Unearthed
“Since biologists rely heavily on organization of head appendages to classify arthropods groups, such as insects and spiders, our study provides a crucial reference point for reconstructing the evolutionary history a relationships of the most diverse a abundant animals on Earth,” said co-author Javier Ortega-Hernandez, an earth scientist from the University of Cambridge. “This is early as we can currently see into arthropod limb development.”
Scientists have recently unearthed an extraordinary preserved fossil nearly 520 million years ago. The fossilized animal is an arthropod named fuxhianhuiid, has grown primitive limbs on the under-side of its head, and it has been possible that it used those limbs for eating as it crept across the sea floor. The fuxhianhuiid lived nearly 50 million years ago before animals first appeared from the sea to the land, during the early parts of the Cambrian explosion.
When Ortega-Hernandez and his colleagues began excavating in a fossil-rich region southwest of China, they unearthed several specimens of fuxhianhuiid.
“These fossils are our best window to see the most primitive state of animals as we know them – including us,” Ortega-Hernandez said in a statement. “Before that there is no clear indication in the fossil record of whether something was an animal or plant – but we are still filling in the details, of which is an important one.”