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sea sponge may be the common ancestor of all animal life

 
 
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 05:28 pm
Scientists estimate that there are about 8.7 million species of animals on Earth – give or take 1.3 million. But in the beginning there could be only one.

That animal was very likely the simple sea sponge, according to a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Based on new genetic tests, the team of scientists can say with confidence that molecules produced by sea sponges have been found in 640-million-year-old rocks. These rocks significantly predate the Cambrian explosion, the period 540 million years ago in which most animal groups took over the planet, suggesting that sea sponges may have been the first animals.

Recommended: Do you know Planet Earth? Take the quiz.
The researchers write in the study, which was published Friday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that their testing provides “the oldest evidence for animal life.”

“We brought together paleontological and genetic evidence to make a pretty strong case that this really is a molecular fossil of sponges,” explains David Gold, a post-doctoral researcher in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), in a press release.

Paleontologists have long struggled to determine which type of animal was the first to the evolutionary line. While they have unearthed a large number of fossils from the start of the Cambrian explosion, the fossils that are known from before then are peculiar in many respects.

EAPS Professor Roger Summons has spent more than two decades searching for the animal kingdom’s extended evolutionary tree. His lab has been looking for clues in molecular fossils, trace amounts of molecules that have survived in ancient rocks long after the rest of an animal has decayed.

The so-called “‘sponge biomarker hypothesis” was first hypothesized in 1994 and partially confirmed in 2009. It focuses on 24-isopropylcholestane, a lipid molecule, or sterol, that scientists have found in unusually high amounts in Cambrian and slightly older rocks. Genetic testing by Dr. Gold adds “a further layer of evidence supporting” the theory that sponges or their ancestors might be their source, Dr. Summons said in the release.

The results of the study provide strong evidence that sea sponges appeared on Earth 640 million years ago, much earlier than any other life form.

“This brings up all these new questions: What did these organisms look like? What was the environment like? And why is there this big gap in the fossil record?” Gold says. “This goes to show how much we still don’t know about early animal life, how many discoveries there are left, and how useful, when done properly, these molecular fossils can be to help fill in those gaps.
http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0226/Humble-sea-sponge-may-be-the-common-ancestor-of-all-animal-life
 
Tes yeux noirs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 05:36 pm
We are all descended from sponges? Let us hope that it is not true, but if it is true, let us hope that it does not become generally known! (As the apocryphal Victorian lady was was supposed to have said on hearing about Darwin and apes or monkeys depending on the version).
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 05:38 pm
Some people would make good luffa sponge.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 05:41 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe's source wrote:
The results of the study provide strong evidence that sea sponges appeared on Earth 640 million years ago, much earlier than any other life form.


This is just another example of how journalists are the bottom-feeders of the literary world. The earliest life forms appeared on the planet more than 4 billion years ago. This is about the first animal life form. Small wonder people don't know a damned thing about science.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 05:46 pm
This is from the Wikipedia article entitled "Life." I'll revise my previous statement to read that life appeared 3.5 to 4.4 billion years ago.

Quote:
Abiogenesis is the natural process of life arising from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. The earliest life on Earth arose at least 3.5 billion years ago, during the Eoarchean Era when sufficient crust had solidified following the molten Hadean Eon. The earliest physical evidence of life on Earth is biogenic graphite from 3.7 billion-year-old metasedimentary rocks found in Western Greenland and microbial mat fossils in 3.48 billion-year-old sandstone found in Western Australia. Some theories, such as the Late Heavy Bombardment theory, suggest that life on Earth may have started even earlier, as early as 4.1-4.4 billion years ago. According to one of the researchers, "If life arose relatively quickly on Earth ... then it could be common in the universe."
farmerman
 
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Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 07:19 pm
@Setanta,
The 4.1 BY "trial" is evidenced by C12 is from an igneous environment. Ive been skeptical that life, if it ever existed in this sere, lasted a few nanoseconds before barbecue.

The first "Shelled animals" are evidenced from fossils in the Flinders Hills(I believe thats the site) of Australia (thats the site at 650 Million years ago).
We know that life existed in a continuous string SINCE 3.8+ By.
Those reporters were probably facing a deadline and a dumass science editor who probably deferred to his 8 year old dinosaur loving kid.

0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
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Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 08:18 pm
I post stories like this because I know we have sharp minds with better education than myself. There are always a few to sort it out. Thanks.
edgarblythe
 
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Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 08:41 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

I post stories like this because I know we have sharp minds with better education than myself. There are always a few to sort it out. Thanks.

edit
I am sort of like those seeking grammar help on here.
rosborne979
 
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Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 08:43 pm
@edgarblythe,
Molecular fossils. Cool.
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cicerone imposter
 
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Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 08:54 pm
@Setanta,
There goes the bible story.
0 Replies
 
Blickers
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 10:55 pm
So were the creators of Spongebob Squarepants brilliant or just remarkably lucky in their choice of hero?
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2016 11:40 pm
@edgarblythe,
the guy that did the Nature Geosciences report about the sponges, has been an infrequent poster here over the last 7 or so years. Hope he will show up and sort it out.
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farmerman
 
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Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2016 05:17 am
@edgarblythe,
Papaers battling for their place in the sun is a sad example of academic life. Paleontologists over at Princeton have been presenting evidence for many years that a specific sponge was the "LAST" common ancestor of animal life on earth.

The use of "chemical fossils" is also old news because the occurence of isoprene chains as cell wall material is a "key chemical fossil" of the first appearance of Archea.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2016 08:27 am
@farmerman,
a specific sponge was the "LAST" common ancestor of animal life on earth.

Perhaps the author read information like this and it was somehow corrupted in his perception.
0 Replies
 
Amoh5
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Feb, 2016 03:03 am
@Blickers,
Ya know, scientifically Spongebob could be your original ancestor, I think its the way he laughs that gives him away...
0 Replies
 
 

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