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.

Nope, octopuses probably didn’t come from outer space

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

Half billion-year-old nervous system is most detailed fossil of its kind ever

Unearthed in southern China, this ancient fossil bears the most detailed and well preserved nervous system ever found.

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

Scientists find evidence of complex reproduction before the Cambrian

Before the Cambrian, more than 541 million years ago, intriguing creatures named rangeomorphs that grew up to 2 meters dwelt in marine environments. They were unable to move, had no apparent reproductive organs and there is no evidence of them having a gut or a mouth. But a new study has found that their reproductive techniques were surprisingly complex – and

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.

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“.

The first animal to curl into a ball

This defensive strategy has been used for a very long time, but if you were to take a guess, how long would do you think that time was? A thousand years, ten thousand years, one million years? According to a new fossil unearthed by paleontologists, the answer is at least 510 million years! Trilobites and balls Trilobites are a well

Actor Johnny Depp gets 505 million years old fossil named after him

Usually, species are named after defining trait, or sometimes, more rarely, after somebody famous in the field, but every once in a while, they get some rather cooky names – like is the case with Kooteninchela deppi. Cambrian and scrissors Pronounced Koo-ten-ee-che-la depp-eye, the 505-million-year-old fossil is a distant relative of lobsters and scorpions, and it got this name due

Stunning 500 million year fossil unearthed [GeoPicture of the week]

Just one of the many reasons why I love geology – paleontologists have unearthed extraordinarily preserved fossils of a 520-million-year-old sea creature, one of the oldest animal fossils ever found. The animal in case is an arthropod called a fuxhianhuiid – you may remember him from this post, in which I described a lovely book on the Cambrian or from

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

Controversial study challenges tree of life and claims complex life first originated on land

Professor Gregory Retallack of  University of Oregon has launched a highly controversial claim that stirred the scientific community recently, implying that ancient fossils found in South Australia from Ediacaran period, a geological time that preceded the great Cambrian explosion, were actually living being living on land, not water as “common sense” dictates. The Ediacaran period ended some 540 million years ago, and during these

A primitive form of parenting possibly found in 540 million years old paleodictyon patterns

Paleodictyon is a mysterious fossil pattern found mainly in marine sediments thought to be specific of a certain paleo-depth range; it is a relatively widespread trace fossil – called this way because it is mainly accepted that it is created by a burrowing creature. Although it has been discovered since the dawn of geology and fossil hunting, no one was able

Earliest animal with a skeleton discovered, pre-Cambrian

The Cambrian era marked a profound change on life on Earth, sparking the rapid development of complex organisms and a diversification of the ecosystem, thus the term “Cambrian explosion“. Prior to this period, animals were simple and small, as well as soft bodied, with no hard parts to display. A team of paleontologists at University of California, Riverside, however, made

Fossil of Cambrian sea predator discovered – with video

Anomalocaridids were extremely weird animals, by today’s standards; but by the standards of the Cambrian, they were the hot guys. They had a long spiny head, powerful limbs which were probably used to snag prey and a series of blade-like filaments in segments across the animal’s back, which could have functioned as gills. During the Cambrian period, there was a