Ancient Worm Tunnels Of 500 Million Years Old Discovered in Canada

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The researchers from the University of Saskatchewan discovered a series of ancient worm tunnels in Canada, on the sea bed, of 500 million years old, dating back from the Cambrian era. The recent findings prove that life on Earth thrived in the prehistoric oceans during the Cambrian period, a fact that until now has been deemed impossible.

According to the study issued in the journal Geology, worms lived on the sea beds of the Earth by about 270 million years before the appearance of the dinosaurs. Until now, the scientific community agreed that, in the Cambrian era, approximately 500 million years ago, the oceans were not inhabitable. The recent discovery contradicts that theory, bringing irrefutable evidence that life on Earth thrived in the planet’s oceans in the Cambrian period.

The scientists from the University of Saskatchewan, led by professor Brian Pratt, found the ancient worm tunnels in the remote Mackenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories in Canada about 35 years ago. A more recent study on that finding revealed the age of the fossilized samples, proving the life thrived 500 million years ago.

Ancient Worm Tunnels Of 500 Million Years Old Discovered in Canada

“For the first time, we saw evidence of large populations of worms living in the sediment – which was thought to be barren. There were cryptic worm tunnels – burrows – in the mud on the continental shelf 500 million years ago, and more animals reworking, or bioturbating, the sea bed than anyone ever thought,” said Brian Pratt.

The Cambrian era witnessed an explosion of life on Earth. However, the recent discovery suggests that life already thrived on the sea beds around the world about 500 million years ago, previously than the current theories suggest.

“Serendipity is a common aspect to my kind of research. I found these unusual rocks quite by accident all those years ago. On a hunch, I prepared a bunch of samples, and when I enhanced the images, I was genuinely surprised by what I found. That has a lot of implications which will now need to be investigated, not just in Cambrian shales but in younger rocks as well. People should try the same technique to see if it reveals signs of life in their samples,” Pratt concluded.


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