Scientists discover 'oldest footprints on Earth' in southern China dating back 550 million years

Scientists discover ‘oldest footprints on Earth’ in southern China dating back 550 million years

Scientists in China have found what they declare are the oldest fossilised animal footprints ever discovered.

The parallel tracks had been fashioned in mud as much as 551 million years in the past in southern China’s Yangtze Gorges.

They doubtlessly date to 10 million years earlier than the Cambrian Explosion, when arthropod and different animal life quickly flourished, and when creatures with pairs of legs able to leaving such footprints had been thought to have arisen.

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, together with colleagues from Virginia Tech in the US, research the tracks and burrows discovered inside a part of the Denying Formation, a fossil-rich space close to the Yangtze River.

Asked how the groups knew the impressions had been footprints, Dr Shuhai Xiao of Virginia Tech instructed The Independent: “If an animal makes footprints, the footprints are depressions on the sediment floor, and the depressions are crammed with sediments from the overlying layer.

“This fashion of preservation is distinct from different varieties of hint fossils, for instance, tunnels or burrows, or physique fossils.

“The footprints are organised in two parallel rows, as expected if they were made by animals with paired appendages. Also, they are organised in repeated groups, as expected if the animal had multiple paired appendages.”

Previously, no proof of limbed animals had been found that pre-date the Cambrian Explosion, the sudden surge in range that occurred on Earth round 510 to 540 million years in the past.

Unusually, the footprints of the creature in query seem like irregular and disorganised, suggesting it was considerably clumsy.

In the paper revealed on the findings, researchers stated tracks bore a resemblance to fossil prints recorded in Dunure and Montrose in Scotland, considered between 419 and 358 million years outdated.

The new discover doesn’t nonetheless present scientists with sufficient info to find out what sort of animal the footprints belonged to.

“We explicitly stated in the paper that we do not know exactly what animals made these footprints, other than that the animals must have been bilaterally symmetric because they had paired appendages,” Dr Xiao added.

“At least three dwelling teams of animals have paired appendages – arthropods similar to bumble bees, annelids similar to bristle worms, and tetrapods similar to people. 

“Arthropods and annelids, or their ancestors, are potentialities; and fashionable arthropods and annelids present applicable analogue to information our interpretation of those fossils. 

“But unless the animal died and preserved next to its footprints, it is hard to say with confidence who made the footprints.”

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