New Precambrian macrofossil discovered

[Update: It should come as no surprise that W. Haldanei comes not from southern China but some rather extreme photoshopping of a picture of a cute (and very much alive) bunny rabbit. The ‘biomarkers’ are all found in chocolate. And Rolf Harris is not a paleontologist (though I’m sure he could draw a mean dinosaur).]
China has been the location of many of the more spectacular fossil discoveries of recent years – from feathered dinosaurs to claimed Precambrian embryos – but the latest may well be the most spectacular, and paradigm shattering, yet.

Do you know what it is yet?

When fossil hunter Rolf Harris came across a weird looking smudge in 650 million-year old shales in the Heifuldya region of southern China, he was convinced that he had discovered something very important. One high resolution laser scan later, and this intuition is confirmed: this is by far the most complex Precambrian fossil ever discovered. Unlike other Ediacaran species, which generally appear to be nothing more than multicellular airbags, this specimen appears to be possess something like a head (on the right), with curious floppy projections on either side; the slightly lighter pit could even be some form of primitive eye. A bulky body is somewhat lacking in internal details, but there are some suggestions of numerous small keratinous projections of unknown function, and stumpy limbs of some sort project from the left side.
Organic biomarker evidence from the shales is also extremely interesting, and suggestive of complex biochemistry at work in the environment that this critter moved about in: phenylethylamine, theobromine, and alpha-D-glucopyranosyl-(1-2)-beta-D-fructofuranoside have all been identified, and are, Harris says, just like the fossil itself, a little “out of their time”. “We find these things all over the place in the modern world,” he said, “but finding them in abundance so long ago – well, it’s really shaken things up from an evolutionary perspective.”
Harris has named the new species Wassahpdug Haldanei, with the specific name coined in honour of the man who rather prophetically discussed the evolutionary significance of a find such as this, way back in 1950s.

Categories: bloggery

Comments (21)

  1. Chris says:

    I’m glad Dr Harris finally tied this one down, sport, finally tied this one down.

  2. Gluecypher says:

    Wasn’t this in the chinese province Noudin-Fulme??
    Nice one Chris ;)

  3. Sam C says:

    I believe something similar was found on the island of San Seriffe many years ago, but it might be difficult to locate due to the island’s unusual mobility.

  4. Lab Lemming says:

    I prefer his research into the austral summer migration habits of albino kangaroos.

  5. cromercrox says:

    I’ve seen far more loopy things submitted as serious manuscripts.

  6. Clearly this was intelligently designed. ;-)

  7. Rob jase says:

    Clearly this pushes back the origin of sabre-teeth a great deal.

  8. Pete Gas says:

    April Fools!
    When one tilts one’s head to the right by about 90¬? this ‘surprisingly complex’ Precambrian fossil is nothing more than a bunny rabbit, complete with ‘floppy projections’ (i.e. ears).

  9. MissPrism says:

    Excellent! The sabre teeth are a lovely touch.

  10. Andy Holroyd says:

    That’s a remarkably clear impression. It’s a woolly mammoth, right?

  11. Ben Breuer says:

    Rabbits in the Precambrian … right!

  12. thingsbreak says:

    I love it. Awesome.

  13. Kim says:

    Wild! Not the oldest one, though… I’ve seen these in 1.7 billion year old conglomerates.

  14. Epinephrine says:

    alpha-D-glucopyranosyl-(1-2)-beta-D-fructofuranoside?
    I had some of that in my coffee this morning!

  15. Chris Rowan says:

    I’m glad someone is paying attention, but in your coffee? Philistine. Combining it with the other ‘biomarkers’ is far more satisfying.

  16. This reminds me of something I read about a geologist who believed they saw “fossilized” fairies in Precambrian granites. Anyone else remember the details, because I sure don’t.

  17. K Haxton says:

    Reasonably sure that this was used as a TEM or SEM hoax last April!

  18. Richard Eis says:

    Yes but ‘Can you tell what it is yet?”

  19. oyun indir says:

    That’s a remarkably clear impression. It’s a woolly mammoth, right?

  20. Paul says:

    This discovery certainly substantiates the research
    that is discussed in the below two monographs. :-)
    Okamura, Chonosuke, 1982, Period of the Far Eastern
    minicreatures. Original Report of the Okamura Fossil
    Laboratory. no. 14, pp. 165-346. Okamura Fossil
    Laboratory. Nagoya, Japan.
    Okamura, Chonosuke, 1987, New facts; Homo and all
    Vertebrata were born simultaneously in the former
    Paleozoic in Japan. Original Report of the Okamura
    Fossil Laboratory. no. 15, pp. 355-573. Okamura
    Fossil Laboratory. Nagoya, Japan.