Oldest fossil footprints on Earth discovered in China
Jun 08 2018 by Michele Stevens
The 550-million-year-old tracks measure only a few millimetres in width, and consist of two rows of imprints arranged in what the researchers describe as a "poorly organised series or repeated groups", which could be due to variations in gait, pace, or interactions with the surface of what was once an ancient riverbed.
Life during the Ediacaran was characterized by algae, lichens, giant protozoans, worms, and various bacteria, but there's still a lot that paleontologists don't know about it.
The authors can't tell exactly what kind of animal made the tracks, but they can narrow it down to something with pairs of matching legs.
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The members of the research team can't figure out whether the animal has two or more legs but they assume that the footprints may belong to a bilaterian- animals characterized by having paired legs.
"Ediacaran trace fossils provide key paleontological evidence for the evolution of early animals and their behaviors", researchers write in their study. Among other things, it is also worth noting the trackways appear connected to the burrows, something that indicated the animals probably dug into the sediments in order to consume food or oxygen.
"Arthropods and annelids, or their ancestors, are possibilities". It is possible that such remains were never preserved.