Signs point to sponges as earliest animal life

Feb 04, 2009 By David Chandle
Sponges are one of the simplest forms of multicellular animals. Image credit: Love lab, UC Riverside

(PhysOrg.com) -- Even Charles Darwin was puzzled by the apparently sudden appearance in the fossil record of a great variety of multicellular creatures — a rapid blossoming known as the Cambrian explosion. Since then, the origin of animals was found to extend back earlier, through a period known as the Ediacarian. Now, evidence found by researchers at MIT, UC Riverside and other institutions shows that the first complex life forms may in fact have appeared much earlier still.

Our earliest animal ancestors, it appears, were sponges — multicellular animals that feed by passing seawater though a complex system of internal channels. And these earliest sponges may predate the Ediacarian period by as much as 80 million years, this new evidence shows.

Soft-bodied animals such as sponges are very rarely preserved as fossils, so finding evidence of their early appearance required some clever detective work. The key turned out to be an examination of unusual chemicals: steroids of a particular type produced abundantly by sponges but virtually never by simpler organisms.

Studying an unusually well preserved long sequence of strata found in Oman, the research team was able to extract these “chemical fossils” from a large number of samples spanning a range of tens of millions of years — before, during and after the Ediacarian period. This provided clear evidence that sponges must have evolved long before the great variety of multicellular organisms that proliferated at the dawn of that period.

The new research, which appears this week in the journal Nature, was conducted in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), under the direction of Professor of Geobiology Roger Summons. He says that the study began when he was asked to examine samples of oil from wells in Oman that tap into the oldest oil-producing fields in the world. The oil samples from these wells “are unique in geological history for their great age and geochemical composition, so we were looking for unusual molecular fossils.” At the same time, another MIT professor, Samuel Bowring, and his postdoc, Daniel Condon, were able to assign precise ages to a number of volcanic ash layers in the same wells using uranium-lead geochronology techniques developed in his laboratory. The combination of the precise ages and diagnostic chemical fossils is a particularly compelling aspect of the research.

And, after painstaking chemical analysis, they found sponge-derived steroids in abundance — and with them, strong new evidence that sponges, among the simplest forms of multicellular life, were indeed the first such organisms on Earth. In short, they had found clear signs of the very base of the evolutionary tree of animal life.

“I’m not surprised by any of this,” Summons says, because others had already hypothesized, based on genomic evidence, that sponges were the earliest form of animal life. But that evidence had remained somewhat controversial, and with the new findings “we nailed it by removing all sorts of ambiguities.”

“This might also represent the advent of the earliest reef systems made by animals rather than microbes,” Summons says. And the establishment of that new ecological niche may have helped pave the way for the later explosion of complex organisms, around 580 million years ago.

At that time in geological history, the Earth was just coming out of the last of its “snowball Earth” phases, when the entire planet was shrouded in ice. Since the new findings show that complex life seems to have begun tens of millions of years before that, that means these organisms were able to survive through that extreme episode of glaciation, something that many scientists had thought was impossible. This provides new evidence that the freezing was not absolute, but instead left some open patches of water.

“There’s plenty of evidence in these rocks that there were places on Earth where life was flourishing” during this snowball episode, known as the Cryogenian, Summons says. “There must have been some refugia. Life certainly didn’t shut down.”

The lead author of the Nature paper is Gordon D. Love, who was a postdoc at MIT when the research was done and is now a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Other authors include Emmanuelle Grosjean another former postdoc now at Geoscience Australia; Charlotte Stalvies of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.; postdoc David A. Fike and former MIT professor John Grotzinger of Caltech; graduate students Alexander Bradley, Amy Kelly, Maya Bhatia; Bowring and Condon; and William Meredith and Colin Snape of the University of Nottingham, U.K.

The work was funded by Petroleum Development Oman, the NASA Exobiology Program, the NSF EAR program, the Agouron Institute and the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

Provided by MIT

Explore further: 221 new species described by the California Academy of Sciences in 2014

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superhuman
5 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2009
This provided clear evidence that sponges must have evolved long before the great variety of multicellular organisms that proliferated at the dawn of that period.


While it's quite probable that sponges were the first multicellular organisms finding some steroids is a far cry from a clear evidence. The same data is explained just as well by hypothesis that there were singlecellular organisms producing such steroids in abundance for some reason (defense against some other microorganisms for example) long before first animals appeared.
It is even possible that sponges evolved from such microorganisms.

This study only proves there were steroids produced at that time.

Alizee
Feb 04, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Modernmystic
5 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2009
By AWT the life was formed from liposome foam and the ancient sponges are just another nested phase of it (i.e. sponge of cellular sponge by the same way, like atom nuclei are formed by quantum foam of smaller strings, etc..).

Energy spreads by slowest speed just along foam surfaces, so AWT prefers atemporal foam structures during gradual evolution of complexity and the above finding is quite consistent with it.


What does AWT say about coat hangers?

Back to the topic at hand I guess that coincides well with the cambrian explosion. I also agree 100% with Super...finding steroids isn't exactly what I'd call hard evidence.

I just wish we knew a lot more about the cambrian and exactly WHY and under what conditions multicellular life exploded like it did after billions of years of single cell stagnation. It would tell us a lot about how likely we are to find other complex life in the universe...
jeffsaunders
5 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2009
Modernmystic - looking for a trigger for evolutionary changes would have to be one of the hardest things to find. Even once found you could not be sure that you had in fact found 'THE' trigger.

In any case just about all other explosions in evolutionary diversity can be put down to a change in climate. Generally the same climatic change that caused a massive extinction just prior.

That makes sense in many levels anyway. A massive extinction leaves many niches unexploited. A change in climate means that most surviving organisms are not well adapted for their environment. Things are ripe for change.
Gregorio
5 / 5 (3) Feb 04, 2009
Mathematical models of the energetic relation between biomass and the availability of chemical energy (coulombs) illustrate that single-celled life is more able to endure drifting from submarine volcanic vents if either: 1. it increases its mass; or 2. those cells form into colonies. The formation of these colonies led to stromatolites, but also to multi-cellular structures with numerous compartments within which bacteria were harbored. The acid waste of the bacteria made possible the breaking of covalent bonds of biomass swept into these compartments by tides. This was the beginning of heterotrophism. The breakdown of these biomolecules resulted in energy fiven off, energy partially trapped by the engulfing structure. Following sponges came coral. Coral has nerves. These nerves distributed captured energy to the more distal cells of the structure. Eventually a heart replaced the tide, and a stomach or gastrula replaced the compartments. This led to the Cambrian explosion.

It is not likely that individual cells could have produced the steroids taken as evidence of paleosponges. But a colony of cells has a higher metabolic rate than any of the cells. This is known as quorum sensing, and is seen in the creation of biofilms both the the bacteria in coral, and by archaea around black smokers. Such a colony very likely also harnessed this increased metabolic rate to create the steroids, substances that facilitated further increase in mass of the colony so that it could endure even greater drifting from black smokers and volcanic vents.

Check out the math. MR = W^ (4ME-1)/4ME, where MR is recharge rate of covalent bonds of biomass in watts; W is organic biomass in grams; and ME is metabolic efficiency - a redox coupling efficiency ratio of amperes to amperes.
Bob_Kob
not rated yet Feb 05, 2009
Those mustve been some strong sponges.
Mercury_01
2.5 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2009
By AWT, the sponge evolved along with a little known organism called the "scrubbing bubble". The ocean at that time was a much cleaner place.
Alexa
1 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2009
that coincides well with the cambrian explosion
Indeed, the formation of boson and fermion from gravitons during inflation corresponds the formation of males and females from procaryota during cambrian explosion. Do you think it doesn't?
Alexa
1 / 5 (3) Feb 05, 2009
sponge evolved along with a little known organism called the "scrubbing bubble"
Believe it or not, "scrubbing bubble" really do exist. Many things appear fantastic, just because we don't know about existence or possible intermediate steps. By AWT the life was evolved on physical background of surface tension phenomena.

http://focus.aps..../v15/st7]http://focus.aps..../v15/st7[/url]

In environment, like the surface of ocean, the droplets grow until they become splitted by waves, thus being forced to compete mutually. Just these droplets, which can collect surfactants faster then others will be allowed to divide, so that the evolution continues fast.

http://focus.aps..../v15/st7]http://focus.aps..../v15/st7[/url]

AWT explains, why building units (proteins) are consist of L-acids exclusivelly, while energy source are formed by D-sugars, like D-ribose and many other interesting connections on background of surface tension phenomena.

http://aetherwave...ity.html
Modernmystic
5 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2009
Indeed, the formation of boson and fermion from gravitons during inflation corresponds the formation of males and females from procaryota during cambrian explosion. Do you think it doesn't?


Well since gravitons have never been observed I can't speak to them, nor how bosons and fermions might form from them...but yeah I'd say that elementary particles formed after inflation.

And while the evolution of the universe and the evolution of life on this planet followed the same physical laws, the principles that each followed were TOTALLY different. Cambrian explosion is just an expression you know.

That's why I made my quip about what AWT says about coat hangers, since it apparently can explain everything from cosmology to the formation of complex life forms I figure there's a chapter in there dedicated to coat hangers as well...

Is there?

The reason you "AWT people" aren't taken seriously is because you act like fanatics...totally unable to change the subject. You remind me of some alcoholics that think that their 12 step program can solve everything from their disease to global terrorism, and quite frankly it's just more than a tad creepy and scary. More like a cult than a scientific theory, or at least that's how you guys present it.

Sorry if my opinion on the subject might offend you, but that's the way I (and I suspect many others here) view it...
jeffsaunders
5 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2009
Modernmystic says
The reason you "AWT people" aren't taken seriously is because you act like fanatics...totally unable to change the subject. You remind me of some alcoholics that think that their 12 step program can solve everything from their disease to global terrorism, and quite frankly it's just more than a tad creepy and scary. More like a cult than a scientific theory, or at least that's how you guys present it.


I think you got that right on the money. How can everything be preceded by the words
By AWT,
and be complete unrelated?

Even if all matter in the universe is foam riding on a sea of waves this has nothing to do with evolution for goodness sake!
Alizee
Feb 05, 2009
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Alizee
Feb 05, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Alizee
Feb 05, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Alizee
Feb 05, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Alizee
Feb 05, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Modernmystic
5 / 5 (4) Feb 05, 2009
Good God, it's like the Jehovah witnesses...once you start talking to them they never shut up.

My apologies to anyone following this thread. By AWT, I promise it will never happen again.
Mercury_01
not rated yet Feb 05, 2009
HA hhAhahaha!
Alexa
1 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2009
Of course, if somebody would write article about same things in respected journal like science or nature, the same people would dispute it seriously and in full respect. Because people are following meritocracy: they need authorities for decission about truth, because they're unable to think independently.
superhuman
5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2009
Of course, if somebody would write article about same things in respected journal like science or nature, the same people would dispute it seriously and in full respect. Because people are following meritocracy: they need authorities for decission about truth, because they're unable to think independently.


I can explain to you why people react this way, there are many good reasons.

First of all learning is never easy and requires time, effort and knowledge, people naturally avoid it unless they have good reasons to think they will benefit in the end, this is not the case with AWT.

Many people don't have the knowledge to tell whether the claims of a particular theory fit well with experimental evidence collected by science to this day, this makes them unable to judge such theories by themselves and it is natural they rely on authorities.

If something explains too much it is a clear indication that it has not been subjected to a critical review, it is natural for our brains to see connections in the surrounding world but most of these connections are very superficial and do not stand after serious scrutiny. Too often the connection only seems plausible due to lack of deeper understanding of phenomena involved.

An extreme example of the above is this quote from your post:
T-duality of males and females, a bosons and fermions, waves and particles, energy and matter, which may be described by negative and positive curvature of space-time and/or by AdS/CFT correspondence.


Those dualities have *nothing* in common expect the fact they are dualities and that most concern physical ideas. Posting something like that makes it obvious that you don't pay much attention to the real meaning behind those concepts.

Finally your theory is not well explained in your posts, if you want to teach others something about AWT it would be better to make a website which explains everything step by step and link to it.

If you are serious about AWT focus on one area to which it is most applicable and compare it's predictive power with current theories. Look for new effects it predicts and then propose experimental tests of those effects, once you manage to predict something new which will be experimentally confirmed AWT will be taken much more seriously.
frajo
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2009
Good God, it's like the Jehovah witnesses...once you start talking to them they never shut up.


The JW will shut up if you ask them politely. The AWT people are worse.
Modernmystic
not rated yet Feb 07, 2009
Good God, it's like the Jehovah witnesses...once you start talking to them they never shut up.


The JW will shut up if you ask them politely. The AWT people are worse.


Touche, good point.
Alexa
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2009
..those dualities have *nothing* in common expect the fact they are dualities...
By my understanding elementary particles are small living creatures, which follows energy density gradients (food) of their life environment. Bosons are males, whereas fermions are females. They've a genetic information encoded in helical structure of density gradients inside their body like other living organisms, they consist of foamy tissue composed of bilayers with different surface tension and hydrophobicity, they're tactile and sensitive to heat and mechanical stimulation like other animals.

In general, the she-fermions are more communicative particles, usually rather attractive having mass (some can become quite corpulent). In general, they're loving company and most of all they prefer to collect food & energy from bosons (...you know, womens..).

Instead of this bosons are a movable, a bit slippery, unstable and volatile particles, they don't preffer to sit at single place. Instead of this, they usually moving like a true lady killers from one she-fermion to another by high speed. Whenever such boson obtains a sufficient energy, it succeeded with female meeting and it is allowed to transfer its energy and to exchange its information with fermion. After such interaction a new small particles can emerge, which are having structure and property signatures of both parents at the same time.

From this point of view it seems, atom nuclei are closely packed globular colonies of these creatures, simmilar to Globe animalcule (Volvox globator) protozoa.
Alexa
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2009
..people naturally avoid it unless they have good reasons..
The fact, people don't like memorize things doesn't violate natural human curiosity about various connections of reality. AWT minimises the learning footprint, because it enables to derive most of connections from dynamics and geometry of dense particle system by intuitive and natural way.

..it is natural they rely on authorities..
Of course, people are of religious nature, because it's innefective for each individual to verify all common truths independently. But sometimes such suspicius stance may lead to new level of reality understanding. For example, while I accepted the fact, light wave is spreading through vacuum in constant speed without problem, it still provoced my curiousity, why is it so. So I realized, it's natural property of every environment, when observed by its own waves...

At every level of understanding, the same group of people, which have brought a new idea would become a brake of the further understanding and they put various reasons, why not to continue in further research of it. By AWT such stance is a consequence of divergent nature of reality, whis is required to be dispersive to be observed at all like thin fog in atmosphere. But when such dispersion exceeds certain limit, it doesn't bring a new information, it just becomes a source of another level of chaos like too thick foam prohibiting further observation of it.

Therefore it's logical, every enthusiastic proponent of light speed invariance or let say, string theory becomes very nervous, when some other brings an explanation of it at deeper level. AWT prohibits me in such biased stance, because it has made a general rule from it.
Alexa
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2009
..your theory is not well explained in your posts..
This is wasn't purpose of my posts, I just tryied to demonstrate some practical applications of it.
..Too often the connection only seems plausible due to lack of deeper understanding of phenomena involved...
While correspondence principle requires, everything will be connected with everything, AWT distingushes homologies from analogies well by orthogonality of implication manifolds in causual space.

But sceptical stance shouldn't be exagerrated too much, or it would become a pseudosceptism. Here's always balance, because the unsubstantiated disbelief in some idea is in fact the belief in negation of idea. By such way, without logically supported stance skeptics are still believers - despite of fact, they're usually claiming the opposite.
barakn
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2009
This research does not square at all with the recent research http://www.physor...480.html that suggests placozoans are closer to the root of the tree of life than sponges and that sponges evolved in parallel with the "higher metazoans" rather than being their ancestors - unless other creatures besides sponges were also present 80 million years prior to the Ediacarian but left no trace.

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