col_w
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* 540 million years old
* About a millimetre in size
* Discovered in Shaanxi Province, People's Republic of China
* Bilaterally symmetrical body
* Flexible skin and muscles
* Possible prototype gills
* Name means "Wrinkled preserved bag-like body with crown-like mouth"

BBC article
Paper from Nature
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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col_w wrote:
* Name means "Wrinkled preserved bag-like body with crown-like mouth"
Voted Worst coming-of-age adult name given to aboriginal adolescent 3 years in a row.
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Jarek Szczepanik
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TheChin! wrote:
col_w wrote:
* Name means "Wrinkled preserved bag-like body with crown-like mouth"
Voted Worst coming-of-age adult name given to aboriginal adolescent 3 years in a row.


Sounds like a dish from a 'sublimed-wanna-be' modern restaurant. Nonetheless its a common ancestor for all vertebrates, starfish, sea cucumbers and our other 'not-so-good-looking' relatives.
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lotus dweller
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Eukaryotic genocide?
I insist on my relationship with all eukaryotes being recognised.
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Jarek Szczepanik
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An extra info. It had no anus. Actually, it's a very complicated thing among all deuterostomes, including ourselves. Quite a few spectacular palaeontological break throughs during last month: trilobite eggs, solving the mystery of how long it took dinosaurs (at least half of them) to hatch and now basal deuterostome.
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Robert Wesley
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>sauron< "Puss*GRAB*MON!" of 'annals' now.
 
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Is the letter to Nature peer-reviewed?

I'm just wondering if I should take it as now being considered established this is our earliest ancestor or if I should just take it as the opinion of a handful of researchers that it is our earliest ancestor?

(I know I'm trolling a little bit here, at a moment of triumph for evolutionary biology, but I hope others will also see this as a valid question that needs to be asked.)
 
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Damian
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col_w wrote:
* Name means "Wrinkled preserved bag-like body with crown-like mouth"

Yep, those are my ancestors all right.
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Your sea is so great and my boat is so small.
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gamesterinns wrote:
Is the letter to Nature peer-reviewed?

I'm just wondering if I should take it as now being considered established this is our earliest ancestor or if I should just take it as the opinion of a handful of researchers that it is our earliest ancestor?

(I know I'm trolling a little bit here, at a moment of triumph for evolutionary biology, but I hope others will also see this as a valid question that needs to be asked.)


I'm sure it was peer reviewed but that doesn't mean it is agreed upon.

If correct it usually takes at least 10-20 years for a discovery to reach consensus.
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That's a rather poor article.

That is in no way the "earliest known step on the evolutionary path that led to fish and - eventually - to humans" (and I doubt that the paper said so either). It might be the earliest deuterostome, but that is not the same thing.

There are quite well-known fossils of much, much older organisms - stromatolites immediately leapt to mind.
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Jarek Szczepanik
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That talking about 'our earliest ancestor' is not precise (both biologists and science writers often use some shortcuts and simplifications), but more or less true. Our eldest ancestors are LUCA (Last Common Universal Ancestor), which is a forefather/mother (whatever, they were asexual) of both pro- and eukaryotes, then comes LUCE (Last Common Eukaryotic Ancestor). However, no fossils of LUCA or LUCE have been found. They are only theoretical ancestors, predicted by genomic analyses. After LUCA and LUCE comes the common ancestor of all deuterostomes. And here is where our little hero enters the stage. Since it's a real fossil, and has many features predicted to be features of a basal deuterostome, Saccorhytus is really something close to our eldest ancestor known from the fossil record (or more precisely, it is something that looks like our ancestor could). To sum it up, Saccorhytus is either our ancestor or a close cousin of our ancestor and is the eldest vertebrate ancestor(-like) fossil found up to date.

Remember that other organisms that can be tracked back further in the fossil record, as e.g. Cyanobacteria (stromatolites), cannot be our ancestors. They are our distant cousins and occupy a branch on the tree of life that lies very far from ours. However LUCA is a common ancestor for both humans and cyanobacteria. Sometimes our cousins get mixed with ancestors - a common misconception or simplification around evolution.
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