News / Science & Technology

Scientists Discover Ancient Shrimp Had Heart

The entire cardiovascular system in the Fuxianhuia protensa fossil. (Credit: Xiaoya Ma)
The entire cardiovascular system in the Fuxianhuia protensa fossil. (Credit: Xiaoya Ma)
Rosanne Skirble
Scientists have discovered the world's earliest known cardiovascular system - heart and blood vessels - in the fossil of a shrimp-like creature from more than 500 million years ago. The rare find sheds new light on the evolutionary timeline of life on Earth.

The Yunnan Province in southwestern China is known for rich fossil deposits, but researchers had not expected a fossil so exquisitely preserved as the specimen of the 520-million-year-old shrimp-like species.

Researcher Peiyun Cong with the Yunnan Laboratory for Paleobiology unearthed the fossil, which gave researchers the first detailed image of the creature's circulatory system.

“[The fossil] is a beautiful carbon trace," said University of Arizona neuroscientist and team member Nicholas Strausfeld. "It is bilaterally symmetrical. It shows the dorsal blood vessel and the lateral vascular components, the arteries, the lateral arteries and then a very, very, beautiful, system of arteries over where the brain sits in the head.”
 
LISTEN: Scientists Discover Ancient Shrimp Had Heart
Scientists Discover Ancient Shrimp Had Hearti
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

In earlier research with fossils of the same species, the scientists on this project had identified its brain, gut and nervous system.

Strausfeld says it is common to see fossils with imprints of teeth, shell and bone, but no soft tissues because they decay first when a creature dies. He explains how the internal organs may have fossilized.

“We assume that the specimens became entombed by a very sudden event - a sudden burial, maybe an underwater landslide, maybe something to do with a tsunami, who knows, maybe a very, very heavy dust fall out from a storm," he said. "And, then this chemical preservation of the internal tissue as it was squashed flat.”  
The dorsal view of the 7-centimeter long fossil was found in sediments dating back 520 million years ago in what today is China’s Yunnan province. (Credit: Xiaoya Ma)The dorsal view of the 7-centimeter long fossil was found in sediments dating back 520 million years ago in what today is China’s Yunnan province. (Credit: Xiaoya Ma)
This ancient marine species dates from the Cambrian period, a time in Earth’s history when major animal groups began to appear with a huge variety of shapes and forms. Strausfeld says the organ systems detailed in this study are easily recognizable in today's crustaceans.

“It suggests that already 520 million years ago, the basic layout, what we call the ground pattern, of say a vascular system, had already evolved," he said. "And the ground pattern persists until this day in modified forms.”

If we see this ancient shrimp as modern, then, Strausfeld asks, who was the ancestor that gave rise to its sophisticated and very elaborate set of organs?

“This is not going to be easy [to answer] because we do not really have access to any older deposits," Strausfeld said. "So what we hope to find in these Chengjiang deposits in China are fossils of organisms that clearly were already ancient by that time, and that might give us a lead into how these more elaborate systems, these very recognizable elaborate systems, how these systems maybe originated.”

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Babu G. Ranganathan from: Boyertown, PA (USA)
April 09, 2014 9:18 AM
NOT MADE BY NATURE! Just because something exists in nature doesn't mean it was invented or made by Nature. If all the chemicals necessary to make a cell were left to themselves, "Mother Nature" would have no ability to organize them into a cell. It requires an already existing cell to bring about another cell. The cell exists and reproduces in nature but Nature didn't invent or design it! Nature didn't originate the cell or any form of life. An intelligent power outside of nature had to be responsible.

Natural laws can explain how an airplane or living cell works, but it's irrational to believe that mere undirected natural laws can bring about the origin of an airplane or a cell. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic program and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how could the cell have originated naturally when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? All of the founders of modern science believed in God. Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

Only evolution within "kinds" is genetically possible (i.e. varieties of dogs, cats, etc.), but not evolution across "kinds" (i.e. from sea sponge to human). How did species survive if their vital tissues, organs, reproductive systems were still evolving? Survival of the fittest would actually have prevented evolution across kinds! Read my Internet article: WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS! (2nd Edition). I discuss: Punctuated Equilibria, "Junk DNA," genetics, mutations, natural selection, fossils, genetic and biological similarities between species.

Natural selection doesn't produce biological traits or variations. It can only "select" from biological variations that are possible and which have survival value. The real issue is what biological variations are possible, not natural selection. Only limited evolution, variations of already existing genes and traits are possible. Nature is mindless and has no ability to design and program entirely new genes for entirely new traits.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid