Nov. 23 (UPI) — Fossils previously heralded as the earliest evidence of animal life have been revealed to be algae. The reinterpretation, announced Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, will force scientists to reconsider early animal evolution.
“It brings the oldest evidence for animals nearly 100 million years closer to the present day,” study co-author Lennart van Maldegem said in a news release.
“We were able to demonstrate that certain molecules from common algae can be altered by geological processes — leading to molecules which are indistinguishable from those produced by sponge-like animals,” said van Maldegem, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Australian National University.
The new research reverses the trend of fresh discoveries pushing the emergence of animal life further and further back on the evolutionary timeline.
For decades, scientists have struggled to pinpoint the origins of animal life, but recently, a series of discoveries suggested sponge-like