518 million years old soft tissue is found in China



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Beijing, March 24 (IANS)Scientists have discovered a "staggering" mass of thousands of fossils on the river in China.

Fossils, which are about 518 million years old, are particularly unusual because the soft tissues of many beings, including the skin, eyes and internal organs, are "excellent" well preserved, the BBC reports.

Paleontologists named the findings "dying" – mainly because more than half of the fossils of previously discovered species. Fossils, known as Qingjiang biology, were found near the Danshui River in Hubei Province.

More than 20,000 specimens have been collected and 4,351 specimens have been analyzed, including worms, jellyfish, marine windmills and algae.

They will become "a very important resource in studying the early origin of the being," said Professor Xingliang Zhang of China University of Northwest. He is one of the fieldwork leaders.

The discovery is particularly surprising because "most of the creatures are soft organisms, such as jellyfish and worms, which usually do not have the possibility to fossilize," said prof.

Most fossils are heavy animals, since heavier substances such as bones are more fossilized.

Biotech Qingjiang must be "quickly buried in the sediment" due to the storm that leads to the preservation of soft tissues, he said.

Scientists are particularly impressed by the fossils of jellyfish and marine windmills, which Professor Gaines describes as "unlike anything I've ever seen."

Meanwhile, paleontologist Allison Daley, who was not part of the study but wrote an accompanying analysis in Science, said that the find was one of the most important in the last 100 years.

"I breathed in my mind – as a paleontologist, I never thought I would witness the discovery of such an incredible site. For the first time, we see the preservation of jellyfish – [when] think of jellyfish, today they are so soft, so sensitive, but they are incredibly well preserved here, "said Daley.

The research team now documents the remaining samples and drills more in the region to learn more about the ancient local ecosystem and the process of fossilization.

Professor Xingliang says he looks forward to studying "all this new kind – I'm always excited to get something new."

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