August 8, 2022

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Auroralumina attenboroughii: This was the oldest known predator

Auroralumina attenboroughii: This was the oldest known predator

image source, Simon Harris / Ryan Kendall / BGS / UKRI


This is what Auroralumina attenboroughii looked like 560 million years ago.

It is the oldest known predator and is 560 million years old.

UK scientists discovered it years ago in the Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire, and they have now located it for the first time.

Call Auroralumina attenboroughiinamed after biologist David Attenborough, is believed to be a precursor to cnidarians, a group of species that today includes jellyfish.

“I think it resembles an Olympic torch, with its tentacles like flames,” says Frankie Dunn of Oxford University, who wrote about the discovery in the journal. Nature’s environment and development.

This discovery not only delays evidence of predation in the animal kingdom by about 20 million years, but it is also likely the first example of an organism with a true skeleton.

The creature’s 20 cm high outline was printed on a long sloping slab of excavated siltstone, surrounded by other fossil figures.

All of these creatures are believed to have been swept away by the misty flow of sediment and ash that swept the underwater side of an ancient volcano.

The luger was originally discovered in 2007 when researchers cleaned the rocky surface of Charnwood with high-pressure hoses.

long process

It took 15 years to understand the group and the location of Auroralumina within the rock.

In the Cambrian period (between 538 and 485 million years ago) the shape of many modern animal groups was reformed.

But Auroralumina shows that his group, Cnidarians, She has a legacy that stretches backEven Ediacaran.

image source, BGS / Okri


Cleaning that showed the presence of a predator.

“This is definitive evidence of modern-looking pre-cambrian creatures,” he says Phil Welbythe leader of paleontology in British Geological Survey.

What is this

Although the name cnidaria may not sound familiar, you will certainly recognize its members: they include corals, jellyfish, and anemones.

One of their characteristics is the stinging cells they use to catch their prey.

The analysis of the properties of Auroralumina relates to it The subgroup of medusozoa is within cnidarians.

Medusozoans go through several stages in the course of their complex life cycles.

During one of the stages it is a mass fixed to the sea floor. After that they enter a free sexual phase during which they engage in reproduction.

image source, Simon Harris / Ryan Kendall / BGS / UKRI


The animal was dragged by volcanic sediments.

During that stage of free-floating, they assume an umbrella-shaped body with stinging claws. They turn into jellyfish.

So Auroralumina looks more like a Medusozoan bird in its rooted stage.

“What’s really interesting is that we think it’s split, so you have these two ‘cups’ attached near its base, and then there’s a continuous skeleton going down to the sea floor, which we don’t see, unfortunately that’s incomplete,” Dunn told BBC News.

Charnwood Forest

Paleontologists come from all over the world to visit the Charnwood Forest.

The greatest discovery there is is the fossil known as charnia masonicwhich was found in the 1950s by two students, Roger Mason and Tina Negus, and was the first Precambrian fossil to come to light.

The Charnia was later identified in the rocks that make up the Ediacara Hills in Australia, after which the geological period was named.

image source, Getty Images


It belongs to the same family as jellyfish.

It is a strange-looking life form, resembling a fern leaf, but scientists are convinced that it was an animal of some kind.

An example is just 40 cm from Auroralumina in the mudstone group.

By naming it, the scientists also wanted to highlight Area Connection With David Attenborough, who grew up in this central part of England.

“When I was at school in Leicester, I was a keen fossil hunter,” recalls the legendary biologist and BBC presenter.

“The rocks in which Oralumina is now discovered were considered so old that they dated back to long before life began on this planet. So I’ve never looked for fossils there,” he said.

He added, “A few years later, a boy from my old school found one and proved the experts wrong. He was rewarded with his name for his discovery. Now I almost caught up with him and I’m really happy.”