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Newly Discovered 550-Million-Year-Old Footprints Are Oldest On Earth, Claim Scientists

Newly Discovered 550-Million-Year-Old Footprints Are Oldest On Earth, Claim Scientists

Whether you believe the world is flat, hollow or turnip-shaped, we can surely all agree on one thing - namely, that the planet we call home has been around for a pretty long time. As if to ram the point home, scientists now reckon they've discovered the oldest footprints on Earth.

Yes, footprints left by tiny animals who crawled along muddied sea-shores around 550 million years ago have been uncovered by experts, reports the Metro.

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This was a time where life on Earth is thought to have been much simpler, with most organisms composed of individual cells that were sometimes organised into colonies.

Our knowledge of the time is limited - ultimately, we know that animals evolved to crawl from the waters, started to grow legs, and eventually began walking on land.

Then the dinosaurs had the run of things for a while, before they died out and some time later humans came along. We achieved far greater things than our predecessors, such as climbing Mount Everest, walking on the Moon and sitting round on our arses watching Love Island.

Well, these footprints might be the key to seeing the history of life on Earth in a brand new light.

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This one-millimetre long creature is the first limbed animal to have seemingly pre-dated the 'Cambrian Explosion', an era which saw a boom in the diversity of evolution, and is believed to have taken place around 510-541 million years ago.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Strangely though, scientists are yet to find the any trace of the creature, which they believe to be a type of arthropod - an animal such as a spider, crustacean or insect.

The animal was thought to have walked and burrowed itself in the ground to travel. Its fossilised marks were discovered in southern China, the Yangtze Gorges area, on a rock formation that's between 541 and 551 million years old.

Scientists have been quick to judge the animal as clumsy', owing to the irregular and awkward footprints, and it's understood, too, that the creatures were 'bilaterian', meaning they had pairs of matching appendages.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Dr Shuhai Xiao, from Virginia Tech University in the US, who leads a Chinese and American team, said in the journal Science Advances: "The irregular arrangement of tracks in the trackways may be taken as evidence that the movement of their trace maker's appendages was poorly coordinated and is distinct from the highly coordinated metachronal (wave-like) rhythm typical of modern arthropods."

The discovery of this animal's footprints serves as a reminder of just how small and insignificant we really are, and just how old the Earth really is.

After all, the 1960s might seem like an age ago, but it's merely a tiny fragment on the enormous scale of time the Earth has been orbiting the sun, which certainly puts the number of hours you'll spend watching Love Island into perspective.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Topics: World News, Interesting

Jacque Talbot

Jacque Talbot is a journalist and sports writer at SPORTbible. He graduated from Manchester Metropolitan with a BA in English and Film. He is a football, snooker, and basketball enthusiast and has been published in the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Set Pieces, Planet Football and the Morning Star. He’s the greatest thing to come out of Essex since Nick Frost.