A 500-million-year-old fossil reveals the secrets of evolution – science – life

An inexperienced paleontologist made the most important discovery of his life without even knowing it. After it was posted on Facebook, his fossil became world famous.

Four years later, amateur paleontologist Chris Hefner made a discovery while excavating a cemetery in York, Pennsylvania. He posted on social networks a picture in which he brags about the hole he found.

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Samuel Zamora, a Spanish paleontologist and member of the Institute of Geology and Mining of Spain, found the publication by chance and asked Hefner to donate the fossil to the Natural History Museum in London.

The Spanish paleontologist met with colleagues from the United States and England to analyze the find. The answer was that it was a fossil from 510 million years ago, a relative of today’s stars and sea urchins.

“It is very unique and new to science and contains only a partial skeleton. We call it ‘Yorkists Havenry’ in honor of whoever found it,” Zamora said in an article published by his university.

Yorkicistis has revealed new information about how early life evolved on Earthat a time when groups of animals as we know them are just beginning to emerge.

A characteristic of this organism is that it does not have a skeleton.. To analyze it, paleontologists had to interview a photographer to visualize what the creature would have looked like at the time. They used a 3D skeleton, photographs and models that would allow them to see the physiognomy of yorkistis.

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Experts were surprised by what they found: yorkistis is unlike any living or extinct animal they have seen before. The group of paleontologists explained that it is now necessary for molecular biology to explain the genetic differences of this fossil.

Zamora explained in his article that “the sudden discovery of Yorkicystis provided more information about the period of history in the Cambrian explosion, a time when some organisms adopted skeletons to avoid predators, while others adapted in completely different ways.”

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Cambrian explosion

It is a historical period that marks the transition between primitive fossils and the sudden emergence of new, larger species. For this reason, it was at that time that animals appeared as we know them today.

Yorkicystis lived during that period, 539 to 485 million years ago. Before that, bacteria and other microscopic animals lived around simpler marine organisms. However, its skeleton is different and paleontologists have never seen a fossil from this time with these characteristics. His discovery opens up a host of possibilities as to why Yorkicystis evolved differently from its relatives.

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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