The fossils of multicellular organisms that lived about 558 million years ago have been discovered. These are the oldest known animal fossils that have been found until now. The discovery has proved that multicellular animals lived on Earth millions of years earlier than previously thought.
A team of international scientists led by Professor Jochen Brocks of Australian National University found animal fossils that lived 558 million years ago at the White Sea area of Russia and discovered cholesterol, molecules of fat, in the fossils. The findings were published in “Science” on Sept. 21.
Cholesterol is an important component of cell membrane and a hallmark of animal life. It has been confirmed that the 1.4-meter-long, trilobite-like creature is Dickinsonia, which belonged to the Ediacaran biota in the pre-Cambrian era. This is the first time scientists found direct evidence supporting that Dickinsonia were animals. The discovery has put an end to a longstanding controversy on exactly what Dickinsonia were.