In southern Australia, researchers discovered the abode, and then the remains of the creatures themselves, whom they called the oldest animals on the planet.

Their scientific name is Ikaria wariootia, and they looked like tiny worms. These creatures lived at the very end of the Ediac period, at a time when life had just climbed out of the water to land.

First, scientists found a rock dotted with traces of tunnels laid by unknown creatures. They established this fact by characteristic traces on the walls of the tunnels. And then on a nearby boulder there was a fair amount of fossilized remains of Ikaria wariootia, which were isolated using a three-dimensional laser scanner.

Ikaria wariootia

The dimensions of the worm were small, 2-7 mm in length and 1.2-1.5 mm in width. The age of the remains is approximately 555 million years. In the fossils, a bilateral structure was imprinted with the utmost precision, in which one extremity of the body is the mouth, and the other removes waste products. In the middle is an extremely primitive but functional digestive system. This two-sided structure has survived for hundreds of millions of years and has been inherited by millions of animal species.

In fact, given age and structure, scientists tend to consider Ikaria wariootia the oldest ancestor of all terrestrial animals, which include dinosaurs, insects, and mammals. The rather complex structure of the body and traces of vigorous activity make it possible to unambiguously separate this species from the inhabitants of ancient oceans. Thus, Ikaria wariootia was also the first land creature known to us today.

Ikaria wariootia

Tunnels in stone eaten by Ikaria wariootia