‘Bizarre And Unfamiliar’ Creatures May Be Some Of Earth’s First Complex Lifeforms


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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A paper published in the January edition of the Journal of the Geological Society detailed some of the oldest known lifeforms ever found, revealing a strange chapter in the evolution of life on Earth.

The study is based on a set of fossils discovered at the Coed Cochion Quarry in Carmarthenshire, Wales, dated to around 565 million years ago. The first signs of multicellular life appeared on Earth around 600-700 million years ago, so these complex creatures are believed to be some of the first to evolve. Ever.

And boy, did they sound weird. Apparently they were similar to Ediacaran-period fossils, an ancient group found across the world, lead author Anthony Clarke told Cosmos. “These creatures would in some ways resemble modern day marine species such as jellyfish. Yet in other ways they’re bizarre and unfamiliar. Some appear fern-like, others like cabbages, whereas others resembled sea pens,” he noted.

Photographs of the Ediacaran biota from the Llangynog Inlier. The variable scale for the images should be noted. (a) Group of Aspidella s.s. (b) Pair of Ediacaria-type morphs of Aspidella s.l., showing growth interference. (c) Ediacaria-type morph of Aspidella s.l. (d) Hiemalora. (e) Palaeopascichnus sp. (f) Yelovichnus sp. (g) A pair of Spriggia-type morphs of Aspidella. (h) Sinusoidal trace fossil. The Llangynog fossils have been deposited in Amgueddfa Cymru–Museum Wales under the registered number NMW.79.16G./

As far as the fossil record goes, life on Earth was pretty dull (only single-celled organisms) until the Ediacaran-period creatures, who figured out that mo’ cells means mo’ fun. We still don’t know what caused this explosion in evolution, but it may have had something to do with Earth’s shift out of an Ice Age. (RELATED: The Oldest Human Activity In America May Have Just Been Discovered, And It’s Rewriting Our History)

“Ediacaran fossils record the response of life to the thaw out from a global glaciation, which shows the deep connection between geological processes and biology,” the study’s co-author, Curtin University Professor Chris Kirkland, noted. “Our study underscores the importance of understanding these ancient ecosystems in order to unravel the mysteries of Earth’s past and shape our comprehension of life’s evolution.”

Wales is home to countless historical sites, many of them shrouded in mystery. Most recently, archaeologists uncovered an ancient burial ground at Fonmon Castle containing at least four bodies positioned in a “crouching” stance.