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558-million-year-old fat molecule reveals world's earliest animal

558-million-year-old fat molecule reveals world's earliest animal

Science
Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a fat molecule preserved in a 558-million-year-old fossil. According to a new paper published this week in the journal Science, the discovery confirms Dickinsonia, a strange blob-like sea creature, as the earliest animal in the geologic record. Dickinsonia is a member of the Ediacaran biota, a group of primitive organisms with frond-like patterns. The group emerged during the Ediacaran period, which lasted from 635 to 542 million years ago. Scientists have previously argued whether Ediacaran species were animals. The fat molecule -- a type of cholesterol unique to animals -- found within the Dickinsonia fossil suggests they were. "The fossil fat molecules that we've found prove that animals were large and abundant 558 million years ago, millio...