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Scientists are searching every day for new evidence of how the world looked like way before humans existed. They are searching for new ways to improve our lives and they are always looking for new cures to all sorts of illnesses and diseases. Without science our world would not even exist. The latest science news is about the 500-million-year-old fossils discovered in China that reveal the embryos of an unknown animal. The small, spherical fossils were found in the southern part of China and come from the Cambrian age which dates back 540 to 485 million years ago. The Cambrian age is known for its great diversity of species like the trilobite which had exoskeleton and fossilized properly. Other species of worms and sponges were made of soft tissue and that didn’t preserved.
The 500-million-year-old fossils were discovered by researchers James Schiffbauer from the University of Missouri and Jesse Broce of Virginia Tech while searching for soft tissue fossils in the limestone in Hubei province in southern China. The researchers found tiny spheres with polygonal patterns on the surface. They believe this to be fossilized embryos which come from the third stage of the Cambrian age which dates back somewhere around 541 million years ago.
Schiffbauer stated that: “We found over 140 spherically shaped fossils, some of which include features that are reminiscent of division-stage embryos, essentially frozen in time.”
Researchers initially began investigating by dissolving the fossils out of the limestone using acid, a method that proved to damage and even destroy the spherical fossils. Then they tried a different method that was successful: they chiseled the rock by hand into millimeter-sized pieces of rock and exposed the fossils manually.
The scientist then investigated the 500-million-year-old fossils using a variety of techniques: they sliced them into sections and viewed them under the microscope. They also used X-rays and scanning electron microscopy to image the fossils.
What they found were specimens with an envelope rich in phosphate which surrounded a ball of calcite. The organic compounds of the embryo have long since mineralized. Some of the revealed spheres had similar polygonal patterns with a fossilized embryo from another Cambrian worm creature called the Markuelia. The scientists believe that the 500-million-year-old fossils are called blastulas, which is an early (multicellular) stage of embryonic development.
500 million-year-old fossils – the embryo remains a mystery
The scientists won’t know what the embryos would have grown up into. This is not the first time science people discover fossilized embryos. In the past they’ve found a 380-million-year old fish which carried an embryo in its belly and embryos of dinosaur inside their eggs.