Science/Tech

Researchers Find Oldest Land Animal Ever Discovered

Recently, a team of scientists recently found the oldest land animal that has ever been discovered.

Scientists Find The Oldest Land Animal Ever

According to a new report, a recently discovered fossilized millipede-like creature in Scotland might represent the oldest known land animal. And it might essentially be the pioneer of terrestrial living in Earth some 425 million years ago, when most of life still dwelled in water.

As per the researchers who discovered it, the millipede-like fossil, called Kampecaris obanensis (unearthed on the island of Kerrera in the Scottish Inner Hebrides), most likely inhabited a lakeside environment during its time, with its diet mostly consisting of decomposing plants. In addition to the creature, the researchers were also able to find fossils of Cooksonia, which is the world’s oldest known plant with a stem.

However, while Kampecaris is now known as the earliest land animal that’s been discovered from a fossil, paleontologist Michael Brookfield of the University of Texas and the University of Massachusetts Boston, lead author of the research, said that soil worms most likely preceded it and might have appeared 25 million years earlier than it. The research itself has been published in the journal Historical Biology.

Two and a half centimeters long with the usual, segmented body, Kampecaris resembled modern-day millipedes. However, it’s merely millipede-like, but has nothing to do with them since it’s part of an already extinct group. Its legs, unfortunately, were not preserved in the fossil. Like millipedes, however, Kampecaris is also an arthropod, which is a family that also includes spiders, insects, centipedes and even crustaceans like crabs and shrimps.

During the planet’s early days, life was mostly limited to underwater creatures. But an explosion of diversity happened around 540 million years ago tha then resulted into life slowly adapting to life on land, most likely pioneered by plants and mosses around 450 million years ago. Later on, plants with stems like Cooksonia most likely evolved, giving way for more terrestrial ecosystems to emerge on land the same way it did back in the ocean.

The first land vertebrates, which are basically amphibians, first showed up some 375 million years ago. Homo sapiens, the ancestors of modern-day humans, then appeared 300,000 years ago.

fossil-1000575_960_720 Once discovered, fossils can tell paleontologists a lot about past events. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

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