MIT Analysis confirms Belief That Earth's First Critter was Sea Sponge

MIT Analysis confirms Belief That Earth's First Critter was Sea Sponge

Sea sponge, a creature believed to be the first creature to inhabit the planet, has now some facts to support the notion. An analysis on 640-million-year-old rocks by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found a molecule from a simple sea sponge.

The new research has confirmed that the critter arrived on earth at a time much before than many other animals and the Cambrian Explosion. The belief that the sea sponge was the earth’s first creature is not new, and the new analysis has verified the notion by studying ancient molecular fossils.

The MIT researchers considered the molecule 24-isopropylcholestane, also known as 24-ipc, for the study. Scientists found the molecule from 640 million-year-old rocks, much older than the 540 million year old Cambrian Explosion.

“We brought together paleontological and genetic evidence to make a pretty strong case that this really is a molecular fossil of sponges. This is some of the oldest evidence for animal life”, said David Gold, a researcher at the MIT and a lead author of the study. Gold and another MIT researcher Roger Summons were senior researchers of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Before sea sponge, algae were also a candidate to be the planet’s oldest creature, but the sponge had evolved the extra gene copy well before algae.

The new analysis has given birth to new questions on early life of sea sponges, Gold said. Now, researchers aim to discover what these organisms looked like millions of years ago and in what kind of environment they lived, the author added. New researches in near future could help discover more about the creature and its life on earth, as per Gold.


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