A study revealed that humans are genetically similar to animals that are 555 million years old

Riverside, California – A recent study suggests that genes from some of Earth’s oldest ocean animals are similar to those found in modern-day animals and humans. These creatures, which existed 555 million years ago, lack skeletal systems and appendages, however, fossil records indicate a number of genes we have in common with them.

“None of them had heads or skeletons. It is possible that many of them looked like three-dimensional bath mats on the sea floor, and round discs stuck to it.” Marie Drosser, professor of geology at the University of California, Riverside and first author of the study, said in a statement. “These animals are so weird and so different, it’s hard to assign them to modern classes of organisms just by looking at them, and it’s not like we can extract their DNA — we can’t.”

The physical appearance of these animals, as well as their possible behaviors, have been compared with those of modern-day animals through well-preserved fossil records. Drosser and Scott Evans, a recent PhD graduate from the University of California, have linked these characteristics to specific genes within organisms today.

Paleontologist Scott Evans studies fossils in the Australian outback. (Credit: Droser Lab/UCR)

Although there have been more than 40 species discovered from the Ediacaran period, the researchers selected four representative organisms for analysis, ranging in size from one or two millimeters to nearly a meter in length.

It was one of the selected species Kimbrella, a teardrop-shaped animal with an oblong “foot” used to collect food from the seabed. The foot was also used for locomotion, similar to modern day snails and clams. Dickinsonian, another type of study, was oval in shape and had a ribbed surface.

types Tripracadium And Ikaria It was also analyzed. Triprachidium is a sessile, spiral-shaped organism that lives on the sea floor. Newly discovered Ikaria The fossils resembled a modern worm, however, their length was only about 2 mm.

Scientists say Ikaria may have been the first bisexual animals, having developed a gut system that connects the head, or anterior region, to the posterior region. According to Evans, it is possible that the species ate as it moved over the sea floor, indicating that it had mouths that did not appear in the fossil records.

All representative species in the study were multicellular, and most were bilaterally symmetric. Although their nervous systems are not as powerful as humans, they extended to their entire body similar to modern day animals. Also, they had muscular systems similar to today’s animals, with muscles developed in most areas of the body.

The study also reveals that these species can repair their bodies by ApoptosisIt is the same event that occurs in the human body to destroy infected cells. According to scientists, this indicates a genetic similarity between this ancient species and humans. “The fact that we can say that these genes were on in something that went extinct half a billion years ago is pretty cool to me,” says Evans.

To understand how these animals and other species after them evolved, the researchers plan to study the development of their muscles, as well as how each species functions. “Our work is a way of putting these animals on the tree of life, in some ways,” Drosser adds. “And he showed that they are genetically related to modern animals, and to us.”

These results were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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