Scientists digging in a Namibian national park have uncovered sponge-like fossils they say are the first animals, a discovery that would push the emergence of animal life back millions of years.
The tiny vase-shaped creatures' fossils were found in Namibia's Etosha National Park and other sites around the country in rocks between 760 and 550 million years old, a 10-member team of international researchers said in a paper published in the South African Journal of Science.
That means animals, previously thought to have emerged 600 million to 650 million years ago, actually appeared 100 million to 150 million years before that, the authors said.
It also means the hollow globs -- about the size of a dust speck and covered in holes that allowed fluid to pass in and out of their bodies -- were our ancestors, said co-author Tony Prave, a geologist at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
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I find this doubly fascinating, as it acts both as a furthering of our knowledge of our origins and a tentative confirmation of the 'molecular clock' method of dating.