Burgess Shale 500-Million-Year-Old Agnostids Fossils To Rewrite The History of Evolution

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At the Burgess Shale fossils deposit in British Columbia, Canada, the researchers found 500-million-year-old agnostids fossils that force scientists to rewrite the history of evolution and add new branches to the evolutionary tree of life, as a Royal Society report suggested, cited by The Canadian Press.

In a recent study, published yesterday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, in the United Kingdom, the scientists explained that the agnostids fossils they’ve unearthed at Burgess Shale represent the most significant discovery for researchers to shed more light on the evolution of the agnostids’ family tree. The scientists unearthed fossilized soft tissues of agnostids’ digestive tract, appendages, and antennae.

“Agnostids appear to be what we call the sister group, sort of like a distant cousin of trilobites. They are more closely related to other trilobites than other anthropods, like say, crustaceans or like arachnids, spiders and such,” said Joe Moysiuk from the University of Toronto.

Burgess Shale 500-Million-Year-Old Agnostids Fossils To Rewrite The History of Evolution

According to Joe Moysiuk, the finding of the 500-million-year-old agnostids fossils at Burgess Shale deposit might also help scientists determine the origins of agnostids species. So far, the scientists know that agnostids lived about 520 million and 450 million years ago, and they were related trilobites, as Moysiuk stated.

“This is an animal that’s been a big mystery in terms of where it fits into the tree of life for a very long time, and so it’s always nice to fit in a little piece of the puzzle. These fossils really give us this unparalleled insight into what life was like back in the Cambrian period,” continued Joe Moysiuk.

“They have lots of segments, and these strange sorts of club-like outgrowth coming off of them, which we hypothesize may have been used for respiration in these animals. So they were breathing through their legs, potentially,” added Moysiuk, describing the first discoveries the researchers made by studying the Burgess Shale 500-million-year-old agnostids fossils.