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Is this the world's oldest animal fossil?

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A possible sponge fossil dating back 890 million years could be the oldest animal ever discovered. Not all researchers are convinced that the markings left in the rock were made by an animal but, if they were, the new find could give us an insight into the evolution of the first animals.

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The origin of animal life is one of the key research topics in paleontology, the study of ancient life. That is because the evolution of animals is assumed to be the first big leap to multicellular complexity. While the first animals are thought to have been sponges, jellyfish-like, slug-like and worm-like body plans emerged during the Avalon Explosion and filter-feeding and grazing therefore seem to have been the main lifestyles during the ensuing Ediacaran.

With the Cambrian Explosion, slugs grew shells and became snails, some worms left their burrows and starfish-like, scorpion-like and fish-like creatures emerged. These formed the major phyla Porifera, Cnidaria, Mollusca, Annelida, Echinodermata, Arthropoda, and Chordata, respectively. Arguably the most interesting phyla are Porifera, Cnidaria and Echinodermata because unlike us chordates, they are not bilaterally symmetrical. This makes it hard for us to understand simple aspects of their body plan such as their incredible ability to regenerate and where they would wear their trousers.

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