Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford have unveiled fossilised threads some measuring as long as four metres connecting organisms known as rangeomorphs which dominated Earth's oceans half a billion years ago. The network of thread-like filaments is one of the earliest evidence yet found of life being connected in this way. The team of researchers reportedly found these filament networks which may have been used for nutrition, communication or reproduction purposes in seven species across nearly 40 different fossil sites in Newfoundland, Canada.
Dr Alex Liu from Cambridge's department of earth sciences and the paper's first author reportedly said that these organisms appeared to have been quickly establish control over the seafloor and they often see one dominant species on these fossil beds. Liu added that they have always looked at these organisms as individuals and they have now found several individual members of the same species can be linked by these filaments like a real-life social network i.e. Facebook and Twitter. The study said that between 571 and 541 million years ago, the first diverse communities of large and complex organisms began to appear and almost all life on Earth had been microscopic in size. The study was published in journal Current Biology.
In another incident, the researchers have reportedly discovered the DNA preserved in the skull fragments of Hypacrosaurus, a duck-billed herbivore from the Cretaceous period. The fossils date back to at least 75 million years ago. The tiny cluster of the specimen known as nestlings was found existing in circular structures, some linked together, while other floating apart on the bones of the herbivore species, confirmed reports.
The study published in the scientific journal National Science Review claims that extremely old signatures of cartilage cells, chromosomes and DNA resembling cell nucleus have survived on fossils after the final stage of cell division. The researchers stated in the study that they found "the organic matrix surrounding the fossilized cartilage cells reacted to antibodies of Collagen II," which they further explained as "the dominant protein in cartilage in all vertebrates".