Dozens of new species found in Chinese fossil site provide window into ancient life

3-24-2019 fu hr
Digging up a Qingjiang fossil on a bank of the Danshui River, near its junction with the Qingjiang River, Hubei Province, China. Image credit: Dong King Fu

Fossil-packed sites like the Burgess Shale in Canada have revealed the unique nature of early animals around 508 million years ago. The strange creatures found in the rock are so delicately preserved that the ancient deposit seemed like a rarity, showing the unusual appendages and body shapes of the time.

In the century since the Burgess Shale discovery, however, other fossil wonderlands of similar age have been uncovered elsewhere on the planet. The latest to be recognized was found in southern China: the Qingjiang Biota.

At 518 million years old, the collection is about 10 million years older than the Burgess Shale. The way the fossils formed, however, is similar to those in North America. Visible in high contrast as dark fossils on gray stone, the organisms of the Qingjiang Biota are preserved down to the finest details. The fossils include trilobites, jellyfish, shrimp-like arthropods and even tadpole-like animals from the earliest days of the vertebrate family.

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For now, they offer a new window to a time we know little about, and, [paleontologist Allison] Daley says, “I can’t wait to see the detailed studies on these amazing fossils in the future.”

Read full, original post: Fossil Treasure Trove of Ancient Animals Unearthed in China

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