Events in Evolution. First Animal Fossils


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600 million years ago. First animals appear in the fossil record.

The fossils found in some silver and lead mines in the Ediacaran Hills in southern Australia in 1946 offer strong evidence that between 590 and 545 million years ago, multicellular animals already existed.

They were all unknown species at the time of their discovery, very different from what we know evolved during the Cambrian period, 500 million years ago.

So far, much more specimens have been found in the last 50 years, in places such as Namibia, China, Russia, Northern Europe and Newfoundland. 590 million years ago, all these regions were geographically close to each other and part of the supercontinent Pangea, which was surrounded by the Panthalassic Ocean.

To date, more than a hundred species from this period have been identified. Tribrachidium and Ediacaria are fossils which resemble discs covered with numerous furrows. Charniodiscus was an animal that resembles sea-pens, probably lived anchored to the seabed, and was a stationary filter-feeder.

These fossils gave the name to the period now known as the Ediacaran Period, which begins about 635 million years ago, ends 542 million years ago, and is the last period preceding the Cambrian.

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