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Ancient fossil could show evolution of early jaws

Ancient Fossil Could Show Evolution Of Early Jaws

The Cambrian Explosion was a time in Earth's history when some of the weirdest-looking animals ever could be found swimming around the oceans. And now scientists say one of those oddities could be the ancestors of fish, mammals, birds, reptiles ... pretty much everything.

This little guy, about the size of a human thumb, lived 500 million years ago and has some of the earliest features that would come to define vertebrates: eyes, a nose, a tail, a precursor to a spinal cord and, possibly, the first step toward a working jaw.

The scientists found it here, at Kootenay National Park in the Canadian Rockies, which has a treasure trove of ancient fossils.

In a new study, scientists at the Royal Ontario Museum highlight one of the fossils that shows the tiny fish's features in unprecedented detail.

The lead researcher tells the Toronto Star there were a few surprises. "I was like, 'what!? This thing had eyes?' I had no idea."

It would have needed them, too, to avoid predators like this 7-foot-long beast, the king of the oceans in those days.

But the study, published in Nature, also says the fossil fits what some scientists think an animal with the precursor to jaws would have looked like.

Jaws gave vertebrates the ability to actually hunt and chew prey, rather than just filter-feeding along the ocean floor, so the new fossil find may show the beginnings of one of the biggest evolutionary shifts in history. (Via BBC)

According to CBC the lead researcher called it a "stunning find," adding "In some ways, you can recognize yourself in there. ... He has all the features that all vertebrates will eventually share."

The team say they believe there are many more fossils where this one came from, and are planning to do some more digging this summer.

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Martooooon June 12 2014 at 5:04 AM

Oh boy...a slug. Now who can we think of that fits the description perfectly? Let's see, Not Obama, not Pelosi, not Reid, not Holder, not Clinton, not Sharpton, well, then it must be the Pope. C'mon people, the Bible isn't a story tale...if Darwin had read it he would'vbe known that intelligent design by God could only have made the incredible things the earth possesses. I'm not a Bible student, but slugs into humans? No way Jose!

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19 replies
Gene June 12 2014 at 6:09 AM

The ancestor of Democrats would be my bet.

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11 replies
Steve June 12 2014 at 3:42 AM

LIARS! The Earth is no more than 8,000 years old, so there is no way this thing was even alive 500 million years ago. NOTHING, not even the universe, existed then. I heard it from a creationist, so it must be true!

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14 replies
kesac June 12 2014 at 8:02 AM

It is the earliest animal with eyes and a jaw? But then the article tells us that it needed those eyes to be on the lookout for a 7 foot predator also with eyes and a jaw. Does that really make sense?

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6 replies
theanteektrunque June 12 2014 at 4:11 AM

The earth is only 6000 years old and Jebus had a pet dinosaur named "Dino." I read it in The Holey Babble.

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3 replies
phrankly June 12 2014 at 8:33 AM

somehow i knew you people would write something political concerning this article.

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delraythumper June 12 2014 at 7:06 AM

Thim liberal sighentiztz don no nuthen. Thay shud cum ta ar church, tha First Baptist Evangelical Church of Gay Damnation & Rattlesnake Salvation an watch ar edukaschunal dockyouminary series, "The Flintstones." Thayl clearlee see Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty and BamBam liven with their pet dinosaurs, and onlee 5,000 years ago. Yep, pertee soon the skool boardsin texas an tharest of the Bubbavlle red states will be techen this sighenz course in thar skools.

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4 replies
stengernc June 12 2014 at 7:03 AM

But, but.....how can that be....we were created from dust 6000 years ago.....now we are finding out why during the formation of our being from egg to baby that we have a tail, gills, eyes and jaws just like this 500,000 million year old fossil. Oh, I forgot, there was no education just fear, ignorance and wars 6000 years ago when religious text was being written by men (where were the women?) No one has yet proven that God is NOT a female....are we having an ego crisis among the male population? Are we still blind to reality? Are we fearful of the unknown? Is that why we allow MEN to scare us to death with reward and punishment behavior?

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4 replies
JC June 12 2014 at 3:05 PM

It looks like a giant leech...or a public school administrator. Then again, what's the difference?

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golffrdlrs June 12 2014 at 1:16 PM

Nowhere in the story was there any mention of creationism. It's safe to say though that anytime new scientific progress is made that puts another piece of the puzzle of life together the religious will get defensive. People are very protective of their delusions.

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1 reply
golffrdlrs golffrdlrs June 12 2014 at 1:20 PM

Those of you who react to this story with defense of creationism need to know that you are of the same ilk as those who opposed Galileo.

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2 replies
BlackDeep golffrdlrs June 12 2014 at 1:42 PM

However I have to wonder who is playing the part of Galileo? Anyone that even mentions Intelligent design is instantly sent to the social rack and put upon by the so called "Enlightened." community. Much the same way that Galileo dared to question the religious community's firm and unbending hold over the sciences. When speaking of uncertainties, those that believe that they are dead right are usually dead wrong. There is something wrong when science will accept, worm holes, dark matter, and will investigate subjects like thought transfer. But when intelligence design is mentioned they shut down completely and will not even consider the possibility. More to the point anyone in the scientific community that does, will be sent to the dungeon for their daring to question.

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golffrdlrs golffrdlrs June 12 2014 at 2:39 PM

I like your reply BlackDeep. Interesting your comment on those who believe they are dead right though. I will leave it to you to decide who makes the claim of being dead right ( always feels the need to invoke the word "truth") and those whose propositions are always given as provisional with expected peer review and revision when better data is discovered.

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