A team of scientists thinks that they have discovered the oldest known footprints on Earth, which are about 550-million-years old. They discovered them in a limestone somewhere in China and belong to an ancient, bizarre, and unknown sea creature. The footprints date back to the Ediacaran Period or the Vendian Period and are extremely rare. Few animals lived in that period, and all of them had soft shells. They had no bones, hard shells or even teeth. And because soft tissue degrades quickly after death, experts today have only a very slight idea about how the animals from that time looked like.
The Ediacaran Period came before the Cambrian Period, a time when life underwent a quick diversification process. But green algae and bacteria were not the only things living back then. There were also some bizarre animals roaming the land. Proof of this stand the burrows that they made, which still exist today. Nobody is sure how these creatures were like, so experts can only make guesses. Over the years, paleontologists have found slither marks on ancient rocks, proof that worms or other beings were touching these rocks so much time ago.
Oldest animal footprints discovered
— io9 (@io9) June 8, 2018
So, during this period, complex being were starting to emerge and this included animals that had symmetrical body parts. They are known as bilaterian organisms with tails, heads, backs, and stomachs. In a new study which the journal Science Advances recently published, experts are describing these fossilized footprints that they think are the oldest known.
The official name that experts have given it is the Shibantan fossil, and they discovered it in the Dengying Formation of China’s Yangtze Gorges area. During that period, this region was at the bottom of the sea. So, using a uranium-base dating technique, the team managed to approximate the age of the footprints. We don’t know whether or not they are indeed the oldest, but for now, that’s how everyone considers them.
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