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Half of the species in the new fossil cambric are completely new to us



  Very high detailed impression of a segmented, very pacing organism
Enlarge / The level of detail in some of the fossils is amazing.

Dongjing Fu et.

The first signs of a complex animal life began in the days of Edith, which began more than 600 million years ago. But it is hard to understand how these organisms are connected with the life we ​​see around us today. Part of this question is that these fossils are rare, as many rocks of this period seem to have been erased from the Earth with a gloss covering the globe. But another problem is that the organisms we see from this period are not clearly related to anything that comes after them

With the arrival of Cambria some 550 million years ago, all this has changed. In fossil beds like the famous Burgess Shale we can see organisms that obviously have peculiarities of the main groups of life that still exist today. With the advent of more fossil collections we can even watch the groups that are diversifying as the Cumbria progresses. But there is still considerable debate about whether these changes represent a real, multi-million-dollar "explosion" and what environmental changes may have led to this diversification.

Perhaps we are on the verge of much help in answering these questions as scientists announce the discovery of a spectacular field of Cambrian fossils from South China. Fossils include dozens of species, half of which we have never seen before, and appear to be an ecological area that has previously been strengthened. Storage is such that soft bodies such as jellyfish and softer parts of the body in shell can easily be made into the rocks. Best of all, the researchers who have found the samples suggest that rocks of the same formation are widespread in China. of China. The animals found in the locally called Qingjiang biotope require enough oxygen in the ocean waters to thrive. But oxygen also nourishes organisms that decompose the bodies of these creatures after they die or dig the sludge after the bodies are buried in them. Researchers here suggest that organisms thrive in the water on the relatively shallow continental shelf but have been drawn from currents into deeper, oxygen-poor waters after they die. These same currents also provide a constant stream of sediments that quickly bury the bodies of soft beings while still intact. heat or distortion of the rocks and everything they contain. The result of this combination of rare states is what is technically called Lagerstätte, a rich fossil bed in sedimentary rocks. In this case, the Lagerstätte is located in the Hubei province along the Qingjiang River, visible as a series of alternating light and dark layers of rocks, with a general assembly less than 50 meters thick in some places. location along the Qingjiang River.


Dong King Fu

  • The jellyfish that are preserved look very much like today. Dongjing Fu et. Al.

  • Part of the deposit is open to erosion, but other plots remain like large slabs of rock.


    Dong King Fu

  • Marine anemone with visible mouth. Dongjing Fu et. Al. Uncovering parts of the rock slab can reveal fossils inside.

  • This formation attracted the interest of Chinese researchers as the rocks appear to have been deposited at the same time with the Chengjiang fossil beds some 518 million years ago, or a little earlier than Shail Burgess. Their interest is paid in the collection of a stunning amount of Cambrian fossils representing more than 100 animal species. Although they come at the same time with the fossil deposits in Chengjiang, more than half of the species in Qinjiang have not been described earlier, and only eight are shared between the two sites. For the authors, this suggests that Zinjiang is a separate ecosystem of a deeper water community

    Well preserved

    The conservation of these fossils is absolutely stunning. Soft bodies such as mushrooms, jellyfish and anemones have details such as tentacles and mouths. In many cases, internal organs can also be identified. "Unexpectedly, sub-millimeter to milimeter, delicate, larval, or youthful shapes are plentiful on some surfaces on the bedding of the prefabricated part of Zinziang," the authors write. Details of the algae with which they share their environment can also be described.

    Even without official descriptions of the new species, fossils answer questions. Chenophores, also called jelly jellies, are one of the earliest branches of the animal's evolutionary tree. In their present form they have tentacles, but there were no early minerals with these appendages, suggesting that they have developed relatively recently. But there is a full jelly jelly in Kingzang so the debate seems to be over.

    All this suggests that there are many things that come from the four seasons of the fieldwork that the team has already entered in Zinziang. But the revelations can begin. For starters, Zinziang has not warmed up or had no climatic conditions; this is not the case for Burgess Shale or Chengjiang. Conservation of fossil materials may be even better than in those places

    The authors also call Cambrian ages in the KINGDAN region of China "widespread," and the initial sampling suggests that such fossils can be found in several places. other places in the region. Depending on how far they are, these other places are likely to retain additional ecosystems. If this is the case, these rocks can give us a clearer picture of the diversity of ecosystems available to some of the first animals on Earth and show how the conditions in each of them have formed the species there.

    2019. DOI: 10.1126 / science.aau8800 (for DOIs).


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