Scientists Discover 30-Million-Year-Old Tiny 'Mold Pigs'

Because there is simply no way to go back in the past or reverse how time itself works, scientists and experts have to settle with studying the remnants of ages long ago, be it through ancient structures, old writings and artifacts, and of course, fossils. This has revealed some very interesting insights about the past, ranging from the type of people that existed before, and the odd and bizarre creatures that lived before apes and monkeys decided to walk on two legs and evolve into humans. These include the huge dinosaurs, gigantic insects, crocodiles that followed a consistent vegetarian diet and whales that used to have feet and walk on land.

And now, fossils that have been preserved in Dominican amber recently revealed that some 30 million years ago, there was a type of unique microinvertebrate that ate like modern day swine. This discovery introduces a new genus, family and species of microinvertebrate that lived back in the mid-Tertiary period, and is evidence of complex life in that time.

Made by George Poinar Jr. of Oregon State University's College of Science, the findings produced some insight on this tiny invertebrate, which Poinar himself calls “mold pigs,” thanks to their diet.

Per Poinar’s findings, these mold pigs apparently have four pairs of legs, flexible heads, and were about 100 micrometers long. Furthermore, the mold pigs primarily ate fungi (as well as other small invertebrates), and grew by shedding their exoskeleton, similar to modern-day insects.

“Every now and then we’ll find small, fragile, previously unknown fossil invertebrates in specialized habitats . And occasionally, as in the present case, a fragment of the original habitat from millions of years ago is preserved too. The mold pigs can’t be placed in any group of currently existing invertebrates – they share characteristics with both tardigrades, sometimes referred to as water bears or moss pigs, and mites, but clearly belong to neither group,” Poinar said in a statement. “No claws are present at the end of their legs as they are with tardigrades and mites,” he added.

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