The Newfoundland fossils looked like ferns, but they were not plants.
A series of Newfoundland fossils shed light on ancient reproduction organism, scientists announced on Monday afternoon. The discovery was made due to the complex underwater investigation that researchers at the University of Cambridge in England have recently made.
The team of researchers were puzzled by the traces they found on rock formations on the Newfoundland coastline. Deeper analyses have revealed that these unusual fern-like creatures existed 565 million years ago and they were very complex, in spite of their rather simple form.
Scientists have estimated that the fossils belonged to the category of Fractofusus rangeomorphs which lived on the bottom of the ocean, particularly in the area of the Newfoundland. These ancient species had two reproductive systems, according to researchers.
The cluster of cells that researchers found during their recent investigations have revealed that the fern-like creatures multiplied themselves through cell division. More specifically, the older cells gave birth to newer, smaller cells; thus, leading to the propagation of the species.
However, there was still a question that remained unanswered, namely how did the ‘grandparents’ of the species first appeared if younger generations relied only on asexual reproduction. According to Jack Matthews from the University of Oxford, the newly found rangeomorphs reproduced themselves through certain seed-like organisms called “propagules”.
Judging by their asexual reproduction system, we could assume that the ancient fossils were plants, but scientists are not completely convinced of this theory. In their opinion, the 565 million-year-old species could also be labeled as animals because they do not require sunlight to survive or to feed themselves.
Strawberries and other such modern plants usually rely on cell-division to reproduce themselves. Older parts of the plant give birth to new offspring, much like in the case of the Newfoundland fossils, marine experts have explained.
Scientists will focus on the identification of other particularities of the ancient species to better understand the evolution of the Fractofusus and hopefully, to determine whether they are plants or animals.
The findings of the current research may be accessed in the journal Nature, scientists have concluded.
Image source: new.aig.org.au