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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.