The world’s first animals also caused the first global warming event — but it took 100 million years

There’s a metaphor here, and an important lesson for ourselves.

Scientists find ‘nude’ creature that lived half a billion years ago

An unusual creature form a long, long time ago.

Earth’s first giant predators produced killer babies

If the adults weren’t scary enough, the babies were also killing machines.

Nope, octopuses probably didn’t come from outer space

It’s an interesting idea, but it’s probably not true. Calm down.

How algae prepared the ground for complex life 650 million years ago

The story of the rise of the algae.

Newly identifed 500-million-year old ancient worm had 50 spines bulging from its head

It looked rather scary and ugly. Nevertheless, it was an important creature in life’s evolutionary history.

The world’s first animal was probably a simple sponge

Before life exploded in the Cambrian 542 million years ago, Earth’s inhabitants were generally single-celled simple organisms.

Paleontologists find a ridiculously armored Cambrian worm

It basically looks like a weapon: the fossil of a worm-like animal from the Cambrian period has been presented by scientists, and it’s as armored as it gets. The Cambrian was definitely one of the strangest geological and biological stages in Earth’s history; it’s not only that it was 500 million years ago, but the Cambrian explosion was firing at all

500 million year old worm had impressive spiky armor

Paleontologists working in China have discovered fossils of an impressively armored worm that lived during the Cambrian, 500 million years ago. Called  Hairy Collins’ Monster, this is one of the first creatures to develop a spiky armor. Today, the 180 species of velvet worms are pretty similar – they have tiny eyes, antennae, multiple pairs of legs, and slime glands. They

Hallucigenia: the half-billion years old freaky ancestor of molting animals

When the freakish Hallucigenia was first discovered in the 1970s, paleontologists found it nearly impossible to distinguish heads from tail. Now, the bizarre creature – an ancestor to molding animals like crabs, worms or krill – had its features identified with unprecedented precision, but that doesn’t mean it’s less freakish looking: worm-like with a mouth adorned with a ring of teeth, bearing seven pairs of legs ending in claws, and three pairs of tentacles along its neck. To finish it off, its back was covered with enormous spikes. Yes, it looks weird, but so were most animals that lived 500 million years ago during the so-called Cambrian explosion – a period of massive bloom in terms of diversity of life and evolution. Most creatures of those times were somewhat primitive, but remarkably Hallucigenia was quite advanced for its age.

Hallucigenia revealed: the most surreal creature from the Cambrian

It looks like a painting from Salvador Dali – but Hallucigenia was very much real. Truly one of the most surreal creatures to ever walk the face of the planet, it was finally deciphered and understood (at least partially) by paleontologists, after 4 decades of study. The process discovered not only its position in the tree of life, but also

Animals built reefs 550 million years ago

Corals have been around for hundreds of millions of years, but even before them, 550 million years ago, animals were building reefs. A new study has found that Cloudina, the first animals to have hard shells built reefs too. Cloudina lived towards the end of the Ediacaran period – the last geological period of the Proterozoic Eon, immediately preceding the Cambrian Period. They

Prehistoric shrimps traded claws for nets, filtering food like modern whales

Cambrian fossil is earliest example of large swimming filter-feeder. An evolutionary explosion Half a billion years ago, the world was extremely different. We’re in the Cambrian, the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, which lasted from about 541 to 485 million years ago. Life is diversifying at an incredibly fast rate, into what we call today the “Cambrian explosion“.

A book on the Cambrian – with some mind blowing illustrations

Paleontologists have found evidence of animal life dating back at least 635 million years. Those animals acted much like today’s sponges, stuck in the sea floor, filtering water particles for useful nutrients in the sea. But just over 100 million years later, during the Cambrian explosion, life really started to pump its engines. All sorts of creatures were filling all