Fossil of world's oldest animal discovered: All you need to know

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A visual of the Dickinsonia fossil, which scientists believe is the earliest animal to be found. Credit; Twitter/@newscientist
A visual of the Dickinsonia fossil, which scientists believe is the earliest animal to be found. Credit; Twitter/@newscientist

New Delhi : A team of Palaeontologist has discovered the fossil of animal that lived 558 million years ago. A thorough study of the fossilised lifeform reveals that it is the remnants of world's oldest known animal.

During the course of study, fat molecules have been discovered on the fossil of a mysterious creature called Dickinsonia. This discovery has confirmed that the creature lived 558 million years ago, thus making it the earliest known member of the animal kingdom.

According to the findings, Dickinsonia has been known to exist 20 million years before the Cambrian Explosion, a remarkable event where major group of animals turned down to fossil.

History says that the Dickinsonia fossil was first discovered by Australian scientists around the year 1947. The study ended up with decade-old debate about the Dickinsonia fossil. It has been published in the journal Science.

About world's oldest animal, Dickinsonia

Scientists have discovered molecules of fat in an ancient fossil of an oval shaped creature called Dickinsonia, which can grow up to 1.4 metres in length.

The animal with rib-like segments running along its body belonged to the Ediacara Biota that lived on Earth 20 million years before the Cambrian explosion could take place.

Palaeontologist discovered the fossil in a remote area near the White Sea in the northwest of Russia that the tissue still contained molecules of cholesterol, a type of fat which indicates animal life.

The presence of fat on the fossil confirms Dickinsonia to be the oldest known animal fossil.

“It is the exact type and composition of that fat that was the giveaway that Dickinsonia was in fact an animal,” said Jochen Brocks from the Australian National University (ANU), one of the authors of the study. Brocks added that the study solves “a decades-old mystery that has been the holy grail of palaeontology,” the Guardian reported.

“The fossil fat molecules that we’ve found prove that animals were large and abundant 558 million years ago, millions of years earlier than previously thought,” Brocks added, CNN reported.

Brocks further said, “Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years over what Dickinsonia and other bizarre fossils of the Ediacaran Biota were: giant single-celled amoeba, lichen, failed experiments of evolution or the earliest animals on Earth. The fossil fat now confirms Dickinsonia as the oldest known animal fossil,” according to the CNN report.