Have the Earliest Animal Footprints Been Discovered?
Archaeologists have just recently discovered evidence that an aquatic animal with legs may have walked this earth at least 30 million years earlier than what has been believed.
Tracks were found that appear to consist of two parallel rows of small (2 millimeters in diameter) dots. It obviously wasn’t very big, but this find is still fascinating. Evidence suggests that these tracks date back to approximately 570 million years ago to the Ediacaran Period! It’s normally thought that most groups of land animals with legs didn’t begin evolving until the Cambrian period, millions of years later.
Loren Babcock, Earth Science Professor at Ohio State University, explains:
"This was truly an accidental discovery. We came on an outcrop that looked like it crossed the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary, so we stopped to take a look at it. We just sat down and started flipping rocks over. We were there less than an hour when I saw it."
Professor Babcock discovered the mysterious tracks in 2000 in the mountains near Goldfield, Nevada. Of course Nevada was covered by the sea 570 million years ago, which makes the sediment surface a good place for excellent preservation.
Other tracks have been found around the world dating back around 520 - 540 million years ago. One fossil trail was discovered in Canada in 2002, and another was found in South China. Since this one found in Nevada is believed to be approximately 570 million years old, it helps prove that complex animals lived on earth long before other creatures, including the dinosaurs.
Babcock explains that there “will be a lot of skepticism” about his discovery. “There should be. But I think it will cause some excitement. And it will probably cause some people to look harder at the rocks they already have. Sometimes it's just a matter of thinking differently about the same specimen."
We can only hope that his hypothesis turns out to be true. It would be very fascinating if complex species truly existed on this planet a longer than we originally expected. It will hopefully open the doors for more discoveries to be made. (Physorg.com)