Ancient fossils reveal the evolution of the first skeletal animals

(ORDO NEWS) — Chinese scientists have discovered ancient fossils dating back 514 million years that have revealed the evolution and appearance of the first skeletal animals. This is reported by Phys.org.

As specified, the artifacts were found at the Gaolufan site in Kunming in the Chinese province of Yunnan. They represent four specimens of the marine pipe Gangtoucunia aspera with preserved soft tissues.

In the specimens, one can see the intestines and the mouth, which is surrounded by a ring of smooth tentacles about five millimeters long, used to capture small arthropods.

Also, the animal had a unilateral digestive system, that is, the intestines, divided into cavities, were open only on one side.

A similar structure today is observed only in jellyfish, anemones and cnidarians, whose soft tissues are rarely found in the form of fossils.

This find illustrates for the first time what the first creatures with hard skeletons on Earth looked like.

The authors suggest that Gangtoucunia resembled the polyps of modern scyphoid jellyfish with a hard tubular structure.

However, unlike polyps, the ancient tube was composed of calcium phosphate, which is found in the bones and teeth of humans.

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