Nav: Home

Molecular fossils confirm Dickinsonia as one of Earth's earliest animals

September 20, 2018

By identifying specific biomarkers preserved alongside fossils of oval-shaped life forms from the Ediacaran Period, fossils from which are typically considered one of the greatest mysteries in paleontology, researchers say the ovular organism is not a fungus or protist, as some have thought, but an early animal. This makes it one of the oldest animals yet identified in the fossil record. The new study further suggests that the first complex organisms on Earth emerged during the Ediacaran period more than 542 million years ago as a prelude to the Cambrian explosion of life. Ediacaran biota, which lived 575-541 million years ago, represent the earliest complex organisms on Earth yet discovered in the fossil record. However, according to the authors, Ediacaran fossils are as "strange as life on another planet." As such, their place on the family tree of life has been contentious and difficult to discern, and interpretations on taxonomic affiliation are often varied. This is particularly true for dickinsoniids, an iconic oval-shaped Ediacaran life-form, which is argued to be a fungus, a giant single-celled protist and a marine animal. Here, Ilya Bobrovskiy and colleagues use a method to identify diagnostic hydrocarbon biomarkers preserved in association with individual fossils. Most multicellular life leaves behind stable sterane hydrocarbons, which can be preserved in sediments for hundreds of millions of years. The molecular structures and abundances of these compounds can be specific to certain source organisms. Bobrovskiy et al. found a striking abundance of cholesteroids (up to 93%) in Dickinsonia fossils when compared to that in surrounding microbial mat-based sediment (approximately 11%). Furthermore, the fossils they studied lacked the levels of ergosteriods characteristic of fungi. According to the authors, the results firmly place Dickinsonia within the animal kingdom. In a related Perspective, Roger Summons and Douglas Erwin write: "Further refining of the phylogenic signals from biomarkers may also help to resolve the early history of animals during the Cryogenian and early Ediacaran."
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Biomarkers Articles:

Race-specific lupus nephritis biomarkers
A University of Houston biomedical researcher has discovered a difference in urinary biomarker proteins of lupus nephritis in patients according to race.
Deep biomarkers of aging and longevity: From research to applications
The deep age predictors can help advance aging research by establishing causal relationships in nonlinear systems.
Semen miRNAs could be non-invasive biomarkers for prostate cancer
Researchers of the Human Molecular Genetics group at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), led by Dr.
Scientists have found longevity biomarkers
An international group of scientists studied the effects of 17 different lifespan-extending interventions on gene activity in mice and discovered genetic biomarkers of longevity.
After concussion, biomarkers in the blood may help predict recovery time
A study of high school and college football players suggests that biomarkers in the blood may have potential use in identifying which players are more likely to need a longer recovery time after concussion, according to a study published in the July 3, 2019, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
3D-printed device detects biomarkers of preterm birth
Preterm birth (PTB) -- defined as birth before the 37th week of gestation -- is the leading complication of pregnancy.
NUS researchers identified new biomarkers associated with 'chemobrain'
Researchers from the National University of Singapore have identified new biomarkers related to the cognitive impairment associated with cancer known as chemobrain.
Novel biomarkers for noninvasive diagnosis of NAFLD-related fibrosis
With an estimated 25% of people worldwide affected by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), there is a large unmet need for accurate, noninvasive measures to enhance early diagnosis and screening of hepatic fibrosis.
Novel biomarkers & therapeutic targets for atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases
In this review, the researchers describe the analytical techniques and workflow used in untargeted metabolomics.
Biomarkers facilitate early detection of glaucoma
Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have identified new potential biomarkers that may facilitate early detection of glaucoma in patients.
More Biomarkers News and Biomarkers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.