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Fossils hint at evolution of animal kingdom

Old 12-23-2011, 09:38 AM
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Default Fossils hint at evolution of animal kingdom

Scientists have found fossils that shed light on the evolutionary origin of animals from single-cell ancestors.

The fossils preserve stages in the life cycle of an amoeba-like organism dividing in asexual cycles, first to produce two cells, then four, eight, 16, 32 and so on, ultimately resulting in hundreds of thousands of spore-like cells that were then released to start the cycle over again.

The pattern of cell division is so similar to the early stages of animal, including human, embryology that until now they were thought to represent the embryos of the earliest animals.

The researchers studied the microscopic fossils using high energy X-rays at the Swiss Light Source in Switzerland, revealing the organisation of the cells within their protective cyst walls.

The organisms should not have been fossilized, they were just gooey clusters of cells, but they were buried in sediments rich in phosphate that impregnated the cell walls and turned them to stone.

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