Pompeii-Style Volcanic Ash Preserved ‘Nursery’ of Earliest Animals

Pompeii-Style Volcanic Ash Preserved ‘Nursery’ of Earliest Animals

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A volcanic eruption around 579 million years ago buried a ‘nursery’ of the earliest-known animals under a Pompeii-like deluge of ash, preserving them as fossils in rocks in Newfoundland, new research suggests. An international team looked for evidence of life from the mysterious Ediacaran period (635-542 million years ago) in which the first ‘animals’ – complex multicellular organisms – appeared.

The team discovered over 100 fossils of what are believed to be ‘baby’ rangeomorphs; bizarre frond-shaped organisms which lived 580-550 million years ago and superficially resemble sea-pen corals but, on closer inspection, are unlike any creature alive today. This ‘nursery’ of baby rangeomorphs was found in rocks at the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland, Canada. A report of the research will appear in the July issue of the Journal of the Geological Society.

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