Beijing, January 31: Evolution of a man has always been a mystery to many. Since 2.8 billion years ago cavemen to homo apes always made a massive contribution to the history of human evolution. We have been evolved from apes to chimpanzees, then monkeys and now a human. Let’s go 540 million years back and guess what humans are actually evolved from a creepy-balloon like sea creature known as ‘Saccaorhytus’.
Researchers from China from University of Cambridge discovered a tiny marine creature that wriggled on seabed mud which has sack like body, a big mouth and no anus.
Scientist traces back the existence of Saccaorhytus for about 540 million years which means that it appeared to have a series of ‘evolutionary deeper ancestors’ than monkeys and apes.
What is ‘Saccaorhytus’?
The tiny creature has been given the name as ‘‘Saccaorhytus’ because it means ‘wrinkled sack’. The Saccaorhytus measuring about four-hundredths of an inch which is 1 millimeter was identified from microfossils found in China. It has small conical structures on its body which might have allowed it to absorb water that it swallowed. It lived in between grains of sand and wriggled on the seabed. It has big mouth but no anus. It was also observed that the creature was thin-skinned.
This was classified under the broad animal group called deuterostomes. Deuterostomes includes vertebrates – fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals including people – as well as animals called echinoderms including starfish and sea urchins and obscure creatures called hemichordates including acorn worms.
Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology from University of Cambridge, said that "we think that as an early deuterostome this may represent the primitive beginnings of a very diverse range of species, including ourselves. To the naked eye, the fossils we studied look like tiny black grains, but under the microscope the level of detail is jaw-dropping. All deuterostomes had a common ancestor, and we think that is what we are looking at here."
The study was carried out by an international team of academics, including researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Northwest University in Xi'an China. 'Our team has notched up some important discoveries in the past, including the earliest fish and a remarkable variety of other early deuterostomes,' Degan Shu, from Northwest University, added.
Dr Jian Han, of Northwest University, said: "We had to process enormous volumes of limestone - about three tonnes - to get to the fossils, but a steady stream of new finds allowed us to tackle some key questions: was this a very early echinoderm, or something even more primitive? The latter now seems to be the correct answer." Fossils of about 40 Saccaorhytus individuals, including a few superbly preserved specimens, were unearthed in Shaanxi Province in central China and look like miniscule black grains.
The primitive biological traits possessed by Saccaorhytus helped pave the way for the various deuterostomes including vertebrates. Fish, the vanguard of the vertebrates, appeared roughly 10 to 15 million years after Saccaorhytus One thing Saccaorhytus definitely didn’t do was excrete, as its fossils have shown the complete absence of an anus. This study and conclusions was published in the ‘Nature’ journal which was led by Jian Han of Northwest University in China.