Scientists have just identified the remains of the oldest meal ever discovered. These are food molecules preserved in the guts of fossils belonging to an animal called Kimberella. It is a creature that lived on Earth more than 500 million years ago and looked like a snail.
During the Ediacan periodevolution began to produce offshoots, and complex multicellular life forms appeared. It happened ago 550 million years. Most of the oldest animal ancestors lived during this time and the world was filled with bizarre creatures far from what you see today. Few details about these animals are known to scientists.
With this new discovery, it will be possible to learn more about the diet of the Kimberella that were part of the strange creatures that lived at that time.
This new study was conducted by scientists from the ANU or Australian National University. These researchers studied Kimberella’s feeding habits which were one of the most advanced life forms of this period. Kimberellas looked like molluscs with the outside of their bodies shaped like a shell. They could grow up to 15 cm long.
The ANU team detected it phytosterol molecules preserved in fossilized specimens of Kimberella dating back to 558 million years. This molecule represents a type of fat found in plants. This indicates that they are leftovers from the animal’s last meal. According to scientists, this implies that Kimberella had a mouth and intestines and digested food in the same way as modern animals.
New information about Kimberella
According to the explanation of Professor Jochen Brocks, co-author of the study, the Kimberella were already known to leave traces by nibbling on the algae lying on the sea floor, suggesting that they had guts. However, only after analyzing the molecules in the fossils could they determine what they ate and how they digested the food. According to Brocks, the Kimberellas knew exactly which sterols were good for them. They also had a digestive tract that could filter out everything else.
The team of researchers didn’t stop there, as they applied the same techniques to Kimberella’s contemporaries. They have discovered other digestive techniques. For example, there was a worm-like animal, the Calyptrina, which had a similar gut structure and diet to Kimberella. In the fossils of dickinsonia, an animal that looked like a 1.4 m pancake, no sterol molecules were found. According to the researchers, this animal had no mouth or intestine, but absorbed its food directly with its body.
SOURCE: New atlas