World’s Oldest Skeleton

1490045Scientists have discovered an ancient reef in the unlikeliest of places: the arid plains of southern Namibia. The fossilized reef was produced by coral-like members of the wonderfully named Cloudina genus around 548-million years ago (give or take). These fossils provide the earliest evidence of “skeletonization” among multicellular animals, and they offer scientists a rare glimpse into what life was like on Earth prior to the celebrated Cambrian explosion. To learn more about this discovery and its implications for the evolution of life on Earth, check out the links here and here. While you’re at it, I encourage you to check out Heinrich Harder‘s fantastic illustration of ancient coral reefs from 1920, and, if you’d like to see how far we’ve come in less than a century, do yourself a favor and revisit the beautiful computer-animated coral reefs in Pixar’s Finding Nemo.