Researchers have unearthed a fossil of a sponge, no bigger than a grain of sand, that existed 60 million years earlier than many expected.
New tools could allow scientists to discover other fossils that significantly predate the start of the Cambrian explosion, according to David Bottjer, professor of earth sciences, biological sciences and environmental studies and co-author of a study announcing the finding of the sponge in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“It’s easier to look at large fossils that don’t require high-tech instruments,” Bottjer said. “We’re analyzing very tiny things that require sophisticated microscopy, and we’re really just starting to look at this kind of evidence.”
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