Scientists have solved a 500 million year old mystery about strange Cambrian structures discovered in China

More than 500 million years ago, marine invertebrates launched a new evolutionary experiment: skeletons. But while these durable, tube-like structures have stood the test of time as fossils, the animals’ soft bodies have decayed and disappeared, erasing any trace of what these ancient animals might have looked like. Now, a recent re-examination of these ancient skeletal tubes has finally unveiled the identity of one of these mysterious organisms.

These early calcium-reinforced “skeleton” tubes date from a period known as the Cambrian Explosion (541 million to 510 million years ago) and appear to have been an effective survival strategy, as they appeared in several groups over a relatively short period of time. geological time (about 50 million years). During this period, everything from the segmented ancestors of earthworms to the bizarre ancient relatives of tardigrades created protective tube-like structures.

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