Scientists have unearthed embryo fossils dating back to more than 550 million years, which could provide us valuable information on the evolution of complex life on this planet. 162 ‘pristine’ (an unaltered and undisturbed fish habitat) embryo fossils were collected from Doushantuo Formation, one of the oldest fossil beds to contain well-preserved fossils, in south-central China. These embryo fossils has been dated to nearly 550 to 600 million years ago, which shows that complex life would have emerged on this planet, about 10 million years before the ‘Cambrian Explosion’. Cambrian explosion refers to the geologically rapid appearance in the fossil record of animals, starting about 542 million years ago.

Rudolf Raff, a researcher at the Indiana University, said that these fossilized embryos do not show any characteristics that are similar to that of the modern embryos. Scientists analyzed the cells within the embryo fossils using computer software, which helped in digitally removing the cells from the embryo and to study them individually. They found that the embryos of the first complex life in Earth were completely different in structure, compared to modern embryos.

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