2021-10-20

Now the “blueprint” of the colorful animal world was drawn more than 500 million years ago?

By yqqlm yqqlm

Xinhua news agency, Beijing, October 20 – question: has the “blueprint” of today’s colorful animal world been drawn more than 500 million years ago

Xinhua News Agency reporters Jin Di, Song Chen and Zhu Xiao

Where does our colorful animal world come from? On this blue planet, the “tree of life” composed of all kinds of animals has flourished. When will the original branches of this “Life Tree” appear when the scale of time is converted to “100 million years”

“tracing back the evolution of the earth’s life for 3.8 billion years, the Cambrian life explosion more than 500 million years ago is an important time point.” Zhao Fangchen, a researcher at Nanjing Institute of Geology and paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that almost all animal categories were born in about 20 million years, and the primitive ancestors of animals emerged explosively. In this sense, the Cambrian life explosion can be regarded as a “point of origin” of today’s animal diversity

in the Early Cambrian, animals with mobility formed communities and competed with each other, and the evolution of species changed with each passing day. The Chengjiang biota in Yunnan Province is recording the most “peak” period of the Precambrian life explosion of about 518 million years, which provides core fossil evidence for relevant research

Now the “blueprint” of the colorful animal world was drawn more than 500 million years ago?

Chengjiang fossil land World Natural Heritage Museum (UAV photo) taken on October 13. Xinhua News Agency reporter Chen Xinbo photographed

at the World Natural Heritage Museum of Chengjiang fossil land, the reporter “saw” the rich and colorful animal world more than 500 million years ago –

at that time, Chengjiang was still a shallow sea, and strange animals had different lifestyles: some were drilling around in the mud at the bottom of the sea; Some use tail spikes to anchor their bodies at the bottom of the sea to avoid “drifting with the waves”; Others float on the sea to hunt. “There are predators and symbiosis here. There are sponges and sea anemones fixed on the seabed, as well as animals with legs that can walk and swim. They together form a multi-level marine ecosystem,” said Chen Taimin, curator of the museum

Now the “blueprint” of the colorful animal world was drawn more than 500 million years ago?(1)

the Cambrian subsea tunnel was photographed at the World Natural Heritage Museum of Chengjiang fossil land on October 13. Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Chen Xinbo

although most animals were a few centimeters or even smaller at that time, strange shrimp, a “Big Mac” with a body size of up to two meters, had appeared in the ocean. Chen Taimin told reporters that this was the overlord in the ocean at that time. Although it was called qishrimp, it was not the ancestor of modern shrimp. “Because its body is too large to be completely preserved in the stratum, scientists only found its claw limbs, which are shaped like a headless shrimp, so it is named Strange shrimp.”

Now the “blueprint” of the colorful animal world was drawn more than 500 million years ago?(2)

rare shrimp fossils were taken at the World Natural Heritage Museum of Chengjiang fossil land on October 14. Xinhua News Agency reporter Chen Xinbo photo

in addition to strange shrimp, walking in various exhibition halls of the museum, you can also see grotesque insects with pairs of sharp spines on the back and pairs of legs on the abdomen, and “magical creatures” such as Chengjiang Longtan Village shellfish, which are often attached to other animal shells in the form of aggregation. It is reported that during the Cambrian life explosion, animals evolved a variety of body configurations, and more than 20 categories including arthropods, molluscs, cnidarians and brachiopods were born

“the animal diversity at that time may be richer than now.” Zhao Fangchen said that many strange fossils during the Cambrian life explosion could not be classified into known animal categories

“before the Cambrian, animals had all the DNA needed to form the body, but DNA needed to be interrelated and form a gene network to build the body shape.” Zhao Fangchen explained that the Cambrian life explosion was like building a house after building materials. At this time, animals quickly found dozens of body configurations with highly stable internal structure

taking vertebrates as an example, one of the oldest vertebrates, a small fish of about 3cm, “Kunming fish”, can be found in the World Natural Heritage Museum of Chengjiang fossil land. Chen Taimin said that although the Kunming fish is very small, it has appeared in the brain, heart and spine

Now the “blueprint” of the colorful animal world was drawn more than 500 million years ago?(3)

Fengjiao Kunming fish fossil was photographed at the World Natural Heritage Museum of Chengjiang fossil land on October 14. Xinhua News Agency reporter Chen Xinbo photo

after hundreds of millions of years of evolution, today’s animals are very different from the Cambrian period in morphology. In the long geological history, the earth has experienced five mass extinctions and evolved many new species. Is today’s colorful animal world still in the “blueprint” described by the Cambrian life outbreak

Zhao Fangchen explained that although many species appeared and died out, from the perspective of large categories, animals are still in the “framework” formed during the Cambrian life explosion

“for example, arthropods are a family, including insects, shrimp and crabs. Their common feature is that their bodies are segmented and have appendages. This family has appeared during the Cambrian life explosion.” Zhao Fangchen said that since then, the biological extinction experienced by the earth is the emergence and extinction of small units, and no large family has emerged

on the “fossil wall” high in the Museum Hall, the reporter found a trilobite fossil. The commentator told reporters that this kind of creature with a strong shell and widely existed in the Cambrian had been extinct at the end of the Permian about 250 million years ago

Now the “blueprint” of the colorful animal world was drawn more than 500 million years ago?(4)

on October 13, tourists visited the “fossil wall” in the hall of the World Natural Heritage Museum of Chengjiang fossil land. Xinhua News Agency reporter Chen Xinbo photographed

“in geological history, species will become extinct naturally because they do not adapt to the environment, and also because of major disasters.” Zhao Fangchen said that now, some species become extinct due to human activities, and the extinction of these species will lead to the deterioration of the whole ecological environment. Therefore, we call for the protection of biodiversity. From this perspective, the 15th Conference of the parties to the Convention on biological diversity recently held in Yunnan is also of great significance from the perspective of species evolution

after more than 500 million years, the “blueprint” of the animal world has been painted with colors, developed more diversified at the levels of order and family, and the earth is more vibrant