Ancient wormlike creature is possibly the common ancestor of most animals

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Geologists examining fossil impressions from South Australia have found evidence of the earliest relative of most animal life on Earth, a tiny, wormlike creature that lived 555 million years ago, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Writing in a news release, scientists at the University of California, Riverside say laser scans suggest the Ikaria wariootia was about the size of a grain of rice, 7mm long and 2.5mm wide at the largest. They were wide in the head, narrow in the rear, and possessed bilateral symmetry. This suggests they had a mouth, anus and gut.

The wormlike creatures are the oldest animals ever found to possess bilateral symmetry. This suggests they may be the first common ancestors to animals organized along the bilateral body plan, including dinosaurs, insects and humans.

According to the news release, bilateral symmetry was a crucial evolutionary step that gave animals an efficient way to organize their body and to move purposefully.

The ocean floor-dwelling creatures lived during the Ediacaran Period. Scientists say the worms likely possessed senses that allowed them to navigate the well-oxygenated sands and search for organic matter to consume.


RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Scientists identify Ikaria wariootia from fossil impressions
2. The creature shows bilateral symmetry
3. Ikaria wariootia is possibly the ancestor of all bilaterally symmetrical animals
4. The creature is speculated to possess sensory organs

VOICEOVER (in English):
"Geologists examining fossil impressions from South Australia have found evidence of the earliest relative of most animal life on Earth, a tiny, wormlike creature that lived 555 million years ago, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

"Writing in a news release, scientists at the University of California, Riverside say laser scans suggest the Ikaria wariootia was about the size of a grain of rice, 7mm long and 2.5mm wide at the largest. They were wide in the head, narrow in the rear, and possessed bilateral symmetry. This suggests they had a mouth, anus and gut."

"The wormlike creatures are the oldest animals ever found to possess bilateral symmetry. This suggests they may be the first common ancestors to animals organized along the bilateral body plan, including dinosaurs, insects and humans."

"The ocean floor-dwelling creatures lived during the Ediacaran Period. Scientists say the worms likely possessed senses that allowed them to navigate the well-oxygenated sands and search for organic matter to consume."


SOURCES: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., University of California Riverside
https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/03/17/2001045117
https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2020/03/23/ancestor-all-animals-identified-australian-fossils