The oldest ancestor of the humans may not be what you think it was. Scientists from several universities found a peculiar 450 million years old fossil in China that, although bearing no resemblance to humans, it may be the oldest prehistoric human ancestor.
Saccorhytus is a small sea creature in the form of a sack that features a big mouth. The University of Cambridge released an official statement that marked the small Saccorhytus as the first specimen in the extensive biological category of deuterostomes. This category includes many subgroups and one of them is vertebrates.
The study gathered scientists from the University of Cambridge, Xi’an China’s Northwest University and many other prestigious institutions. They all agreed that Saccorhytus is the common ancestor of many species, including humans. As additional evidence to this last proposal, deuterostomes represent the earliest link in the extensive chain of human evolution.
Now one may ask what is human about the peculiar creature. Well, not so much. It is about a millimeter in size and that is big enough to live on the bottom of the sea among the grains of sand. Also, the tiny fossil was in a good condition that scientists succeeded in making a complete analysis of it. For example, they found that the creature had no anal orifice. This suggests that the creature used to get rid of the waste through the only orifice available, which may sound a little disturbing to us.
The fossil may not seem impressive at first glance. To the naked eye, it looks like tiny black grains of sand. However, watching it through a microscope offers a “jaw-dropping” view, as stated by the scientists.
Also, the scientists hold an impressive record of other fossil discoveries, including what is thought to be first fish. However, Saccorhytus is exquisite because is the first evolutionary link in the development of many other species besides humans.
The microfossil was discovered in the central province of Shanxi, China. The scientists estimated them to be about 540 million years old. This is about 20 or 30 million years earlier that the first deuterostomes. Researchers also succeeded in building a digital image of how the creature might have looked like.
This discovery is of a huge importance, since it unveiled a new stage in the evolution of humans that we did not know before.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons