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A dramatic rise in atmospheric oxygen levels has long been speculated as the trigger for early animal evolution.
In the 1990s, biologists predicted that studies of animal genomes would mirror the gradual addition of anatomical complexity in early animal evolution.
According to a report by Brandeis University scientists in Nature, whenever a person chokes on acrid cigarette smoke or feels like he/she is burning up from a mouthful of wasabi-laced sushi, the response is triggered by a primordial chemical sensor conserved across some 500 million years of animal evolution.
A new analysis of ancient chemical fossils has rocked the cradle of early animal evolution, bumping back compelling evidence of animal life to at least 635 million years ago.
Working on rock samples from the Doushantuo Formation of South China, one of the oldest fossil beds and long viewed by paleontologists to be a window to early animal evolution, the research team is the first to show that Earth's early ocean chemistry during a large portion of the Ediacaran Period (635 - 551 million years ago) was far more complex than previously imagined.
After all, such innovations occur time and time again in animal evolution.
Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have discovered that these molecules are found in the exact same tissues in animals as diverse as sea anemones, worms, and humans, hinting at an early origin of these tissues in animal evolution.
The discovery challenges the prevailing view of animal evolution, in which genetic information is passed exclusively from parents to offspring.
Conventional wisdom has it that animal evolution began in the ocean, with animal life adapting much later in Earth history to terrestrial environments.
Researchers hypothesize that retrotransposons derived from viruses that infected cells early in animal evolution.
These minimal eyes, called eyespots, resemble the 'proto-eyes' suggested by Charles Darwin as the first eyes to appear in animal evolution.
It suggested that much of the biology of insulin had been passed down in animal evolution from a common ancestor 550 million years ago," says Rulifson.
The researchers propose that vertebrates evolved during the explosive period of animal evolution at the start of the Cambrian and only some 30 million years later developed the ability to accumulate minerals in their bodies to form bones, teeth, and scales.