Researchers have long discovered a hole in the fossil record. Because which animal was the link between invertebrates and vertebrates?
Fish, reptiles, birds, mammals: sometimes they don’t look alike at all, but like vertebrates share, well…just: things like a backbone and a skull. These structures must have formed at some point, but if you look at the fossils, a link is missing somewhere. An animal that shows this transition well or several animals.
Scientists now think they’re on that link. They looked at the son of Yunnan, a tiny extinct creature that lived in China about 518 million years ago. They are by no means the first researchers to study the fossils of this animal, but they are the first to use such a large container of high-tech equipment. Objective: To take a detailed look at the structures in the face and neck to determine where this animal belongs in the species family.
Then they were able to conclude: this must indeed be the oldest relative of the early vertebrates. Thus perhaps another little piece has been added to this enormous puzzle of life.
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