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’,” said Xiao, a professor in the Department of Geosciences.
Previously identified footprints pegged the first walking animals with paired appendages at between 540 million and 530 million years old, in the early Cambrian Period.
Future visits to the site by Xiao and his team will include searches for more evidence of early animals.
The rock with the foot imprints was formed from sediments deposited in a shallow sea bottom that was covered by microbial mats similar to pond scums.
Unlike many modern animals that have hard skeletons, these early animals did not yet evolve hard skeletons, so their likelihood of being preserved is slim.” Xiao and his team gauge the little crawler may have had legs similar to a bumble bee or a bristle worm, as evidenced by the width and gait of the tracks.
The trackways – so tiny they can be missed if seen at the wrong angle or in low light – are about half an inch in width and a few inches in length, consisting of two rows of dimples on the surface of the rocks.