‘World’s oldest meal’ discovered in ancient fossil

Israel Prehistoric Tusk
An Israeli archaeologist works next to the recently discovered 2.5-meter-long tusk of an estimated 500,000-year-old straight-tusked elephant, near the city of Gedera, Israel, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. Israel Antiquities Authority prehistorian Avi Levy, who headed the dig, said it was “the largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) Tsafrir Abayov/AP

‘World’s oldest meal’ discovered in ancient fossil

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Scientists have discovered the last meal for ancient animal inhabitants of Earth, from more than 550 million years ago, in a fossil.

The researchers found phytosterol molecules, a type of fat found in plants, in the fossils uncovered during a dig in Russia in 2018.

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Findings from the analysis of the slug-like organism called Kimberella and the Dickinsonia organisms were published in Current Biology Tuesday.

Researchers found that the Kimberella and Dickinsonia organisms were one of the most advanced creatures of the Ediacara biota, which is what scientists called the oldest large organisms. The Dickinsonias ate food by absorbing it into their bodies because they didn’t have eyes, mouths, or guts, while the Kimberella ate food through a mouth and digested it with a gut.

“Our findings suggest that the animals of the Ediacara biota, which lived on Earth prior to the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ of modern animal life, were a mixed bag of outright weirdos, such as Dickinsonia, and more advanced animals like Kimberella that already had some physiological properties similar to humans and other present-day animals,” said Ilya Bobrovskiy, one of the lead authors of the research paper, in a press release.

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The two organisms predate the Cambrian Explosion, when evolution of organisms rapidly changed, by nearly 20 million years.

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