Namibia sponge fossils are world's first animals: study

Scientists digging in national parks such as Namibia found fossils of sponges which they say is the first animal, a discovery that will favor the re-emergence of millions of years of animal life.

Vase-shaped fossils of tiny creatures found in Namibia Etosha National Park and other sites around the rock between 760 and 550 million years, a team of 10 members of international researchers said an article published in the South African Journal of Science.

This means that animals, which were thought to appear in the last 600 to 650,000,000, 100 to 150 million years before they actually appear, the authors said.

It also means hollow beads - about the size of a speck of dust, and covered with holes that allow fluid to pass in and out of their bodies - that our ancestors, says co-author Tony Prave, a geologist at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

"When we see a family tree and the project back to where you have what is called the father, the ancestor of all animals, then yes, it's great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother" ;, told AFP.

Prave said that the fossil evidence for animals appeared 760 million years ago to fit properly to what geneticists hypothesis by looking at the "molecular clock", a tool to measure the age of a kind looking at the percentage difference between the DNA and other species.

"This aspect is quite satisfactory, at least intellectually, is that in broad agreement on what genetics can tell us looking at the molecular level as we see the emergence of the first multicellular life form," he said.

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