Oldest organism with skeleton discovered in Australia
A team of paleontologists has discovered the oldest animal with a skeleton. Called Coronacollina acula, the organism is between 560 million and 550 million years old.
The finding provides insight into the evolution of life - particularly, early life - on the planet, why animals go extinct, and how organisms respond to environmental changes. The discovery also can help scientists recognize life elsewhere in the universe.
“Coronacollina acula has a number of hard parts they would have been structural supports essentially holding it up,” says Mary Droser, a professor of geology at the University of California, Riverside, whose research team made the discovery in South Australia. "This is a major innovation for animals.”
Its name literally means "little rimmed hill with needles," and that's pretty much exactly what it was - a hard cone-shaped body with a few long, brittle spindles around it. Droser discovered the fossils in southern Australia. It was a tiny creature, probably no more than an inch or two tall, though its support spindles were much longer, probably between eight and fifteen inches long. Lead research Droser explains just why the find is so significant in our understanding of early evolution. (Community News, io9)