Meet Saccorhytus coronarius, Humans’ Earliest-Known Ancestor –

A microscopic, bag-like marine creature that lived approximately 540 million years ago (Fortunian stage of the Cambrian period) has been identified from microfossils found in Shaanxi Province, China.

Reconstruction of Saccorhytus coronaries: lateral, hind and ventral views. Image credit: Jian Han et al, doi: 10.1038/nature21072.

The ancient animal, named Saccorhytus coronarius, is the most primitive example of a so-called deuterostome.

The creature is thought to be the common ancestor of a huge range of species, and the earliest step yet discovered on the evolutionary path that eventually led to humans, hundreds of millions of years later.

Forty-five phosphatized specimens of Saccorhytus coronaries were collected from the Kuanchuanpu Formation, Hexi, Xixiang County, Shaanxi Province, central China.

They were analyzed by experts from the University of Cambridge in the UK, the…

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