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Motility Re-dated


Discovery of the oldest evidence of motility on Earth


Discovery of the oldest evidence of mobility on EarthPreviously, the oldest traces of this kind found dated to approximately 600 million years ago: the Ediacaran period, also characterized by a peak in dioxygen and a proliferation in biodiversity. Scale bar: 1 cm. Credit: A. El Albani / IC2MP / CNRS – Université de Poitiers

An international multi-disciplinary team coordinated by Abderrazak El Albani at the Institut de chimie des milieux et matériaux de Poitiers (CNRS/Université de Poitiers) has uncovered the oldest fossilised traces of motility. Whereas previous remnants were dated to 570 million years ago, this new evidence is 2.1 billion years old. The fossils were discovered in a deposit in Gabon, where the oldest multicellular organisms were found. The results appear in the 11 February 2019 edition of PNAS.

A few years ago, geologist Abderrazak El Albani and his team at the Institut de chimie des milieux et matériaux de Poitiers (CNRS/Université de Poitiers) discovered the oldest existing fossils of multicellular organisms in a deposit in Gabon. Located in the Franceville Basin, the deposit allowed scientists to re-date the appearance of multicellular life on Earth to 2.1 billion years—approximately 1.5 billion years earlier than previously thought (600 million). At the time, the researchers showed that this rich biodiversity co-occurred with a peak in dioxygenation of the atmosphere, and developed in a calm and shallow marine environment.

In this same geological deposit, the team has now uncovered the existence of fossilised traces of motility. This shows that certain multicellular organisms in this primitive marine ecosystem were sophisticated enough to move through its mud, rich in organic matter.

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Posted on February 17, 2019 by Editor

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