A multinational team of experts may have discovered the food of the Earth’s oldest animals in a recent study.
Traces of food that animals consumed between 538 and 635 million years ago were discovered through research of an Ediacaran biota fossil that is around 550 million years old. The old fossil, according to research reported in the journal Current Biology, includes elements of bacteria and algae typically found near the ocean’s bottom.
Study co-author Prof Jochen Brocks, of the Australian National University, explained that the fossils used in the study were ‘some of the most important fossils in evolution because it’s the first time that life became big. They’re the oldest big fossils you can see with your eyes.’
‘Having a gut is very modern. Brocks, Sponges, corals and jellyfish, for example, they do not have a normal gut that goes through the entire body,’ he added according to The Guardian.
The fossils were a part of a collection that belonged to Dr. Ilya Bobrovskiy of GFZ-Potsdam, the study’s primary author, who discovered them in Russia. According to Bobrovskiy, the Ediacaran biota ‘included some of the species that gave rise to the [Cambrian] boom, to the rise of contemporary mammals.’
The study also corroborated a related finding made by researchers who discovered a network of contemporary sponges in rock samples dating back over 890 million years. Although the earlier study did not contain information on diet, the observations made about the many species of animals that are currently in existence are relatively comparable.