The past of our planet hasn’t been completely explored, and scientists make new discoveries every day. For example, they found fossils of round ribbed organisms that remained unidentified for quite some time. This genus has been named Dickinsonia and experts estimated that those organisms lived more than 500 million years ago.
The scientists finally managed to identify the fossils, and it appears that they belong to some animals. There is a big chance that these are the oldest animals in the world. The species of this genus lived between 571 million to 541 million years ago.
There have been numerous theories regarding these fossils. Some researchers believed that Dickinsonia were single cell protists. However, Ilya Bobrovskiym, Australian geochemistry grad student, managed to prove that Dickinsonia are in fact animals.
Since complex molecules such as DNA don’t survive for that long, Bobrovskiy wanted to detect simple molecules that could show him the truth about Dickinsonia. He extracted chemical markers from the fossils using solvents. Bobrovsky discovered cholesteroids which was a clear proof that the fossils belonged to animals. He also found stigmasteroids in the rock around the fossils, which indicates green algae.
One thing that we don’t know is whether Dickinsonia represent one of our ancestors, or if they are animals which are not related to us. This amazing breakthrough was greatly appreciated by the scientific community and many other researchers are willing to use the same method in order to identify other mysterious organisms.
How did they look like?
The body of the Dickinsonia was a soft one and that is the reason why scientists haven’t discovered many fossils of them. They has an oval shape and they were only a few inches long. They also had radiating ribs that can be observed clearly in the fossils.