Evolution has always been a matter of contemporary concern, as it depends on the past, it stays in the present and it builds the future. Evolution is strongly related to reproduction of species, which carry further all the knowledge gathered by ancestors. A team of scientists have managed to discover the first evidence of reproduction.
According to an extensive study, a soft-bodied, fernlike creature reproduced in the ancient waters of our planet no less than 565 million years ago. This is basically the earliest example of procreation in a complex organism.
The creatures who first discovered and experienced complex methods of reproduction are known as rangeomorphs and lived 565 million years ago in the territories that we now know as Newfoundland, Canada. The research focused on a certain rangeomorph, also known as Fractofusus. The creature with this peculiar name has been thought to be one of the earth’s first animals, although scientists cannot entirely confirm the information yet.
Fractofusus used to live in the ocean millions of years back, during the late Ediacaran period, between 580 million and 541 million years ago, before the Cambrian era. These creatures had a great growth potential, reaching to 6.5 feet in length. However, most of them were about 4 inches long.
Surprisingly enough, the creatures were not designed with mouths or other types of organs and did not have the ability to move around. Scientists have guessed that they fed by absorbing nutrients from the water. In terms of reproduction, experts state that they set out an “advanced party to settle a new neighborhood and then colonized the new area”.
This hypothesis is highly interesting, the more so it could offer a lot of help to scientists in order to unlock the mysteries of marine life and understand its beginnings, to better comprehend its further evolution into what we now call marine biodiversity.
With the help of advanced technology, scientists have managed to analyze the particularities of ancient marine life. They found a very interesting pattern in the general distribution of the Fractofosus populations. Seemingly, the creatures used to live in tight communities. The largest Fractofosus, also known as grandparent specimen, was distributed around the inhabitable areas and was surrounded by distinctive populations of smaller creatures alike, generally defined as “parent” and “children”. Experts concluded that the general patterns of grandparent, parent and children are highly similar to biological clustering met in modern plants.
Furthermore, the expertise revealed that the ancient creatures had two methods of reproduction: grandparents were born from ejected waterborne spores or seeds and the parents and children grew from the so called “runners”, sent by the older generation. Researchers have compared the methods with the way strawberry plants grow and reproduce today.
The entire study can be read in the journal Nature.
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