Cloudina carinata

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Two photos, top and bottom, of fossilized skeletal system, tubular brown ridged bone.

Two photos, top and bottom, of fossilized skeletal system, tubular brown ridged bone. Photo: Cortijo, I.; Marti Mus, M.; Jensen, S.: Palacios, T.

Paleontologists have recently discovered the fossilized remains of new species in the Cloudina genus, which are among the first animals to have developed an exoskeleton approximately 550 million years ago. The Cloudina carinata, discovered at the site El Membrillar (Badajoz) of Spain, is an important discovery for understanding the origins of skeletal systems.

“The specimens display exceptional preservation, they appear preserved in three dimensions, and show their original form and numerous details of the shells”, says Iván Cortijo, a researcher in the Area of Palaeontology at the University of Extremadura.

His research team noted that the fossils display evidence of asexual reproduction, meaning that they are among the oldest fossils to present an example of animal reproduction.

The approximate era in which these tubular, tridimensional fossils come from, the Ediacaran period (630 and 540 million years ago) and the early Cambrian period (540 million years ago), was a time when life on Earth exploded and marked the first appearance of animals on our planet.