The Oldest Known Animal Fossils May Have Just Been Found in Sponges


| LAST UPDATE 08/03/2021

By Sharon Renee
ancient fossil reef sponge
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Scientists may have just discovered the oldest known animal fossils - and they trace right back to your bathroom tub: according to researchers, the lineage of ancient sponges might hold samples of the oldest known animal life on our planet. Here's what they found...

oldest animal fossil sponge
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Despite being invisible to the naked eye, researchers have recently discovered something startling under the microscope: tiny, worm-like tubes dating roughly 890-million-years back. Geologist Elizabeth Turner first made the shocking discovery upon inspecting massive fossil reefs in Canada's Northwest Territories.

ancient fossil sponge reef
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"I thought it looked a bit like some sponge fossils from younger rocks," Turner explained of her findings. If her theory is indeed correct, the fossils would predate the oldest known sponge fossils by roughly 350 million years. Sure enough, after sharing her findings in the journal Nature, many other researchers are beginning to back her claim.

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ancient animal fossil reef
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But while Turner might have made a potential break in the scientific world, her quest for answers is far from over. "We need to be looking for similar material with a really open mind in rocks of similar age, and we need to be looking for more complex animal evidence in them as well," the geologist explained of her plans for the future.

Stay tuned while this breaking story continues to develop...