Scientists have just published a major study on two new fossils that were discovered to belong to the Ediacaran Era which dates back from 635–541 million years ago, with the two animals christened with the names Attenborites janeae and Obamus coronatus.
The fossils that were retrieved form part of a group of animal species known as Ediacara Biota and were found to have been extremely well-preserved in sandstone for hundreds of millions of years, as Phys.org reports.
The name for this Precambrian animal group was inspired by the Ediacara Hills of South Australia, as this location is one of the very first places in the world that fossils like these were originally discovered. When it comes to classifying Ediacara Biota, scientists are are still not certain how they are linked to modern animals today, with just 50 genera having been analyzed so far.
The new study on these fossils was headed up by UCR professor of paleontology Mary Droser, who explained that these two animals have a completely different body type than anything scientists have ever seen before.
“The two genera that we identified are a new body plan, unlike anything else that has been described. We have been seeing evidence for these animals for quite a long time, but it took us a while to verify that they are animals within their own rights and not part of another animal.”
— Phys.org (@physorg_com) June 18, 2018
Droser elaborated that despite working in the Flinders Ranges of Australia for 30 years, she has never come across a fossil bed that is as well-preserved as the one where these two animal species were recovered.
“I’ve been working in this region for 30 years, and I’ve never seen such a beautifully preserved bed with so many high quality and rare specimens, including Obamus and Attenborites. The AJES issue on the Flinders Ranges will support South Australia’s effort to obtain World Heritage Site status for this area, and this new bed demonstrates the importance of protecting it.”
As far as the creative names given to the two fossils, the first, Obamus coronatus, was given its name in tribute to Barack Obama and his deep-seated love of science. This animal was discovered to be round, measuring in at 0.5-2 cm, and had grooves along its body that were elevated. Obamus coronatus was not an animal that could move around at will and would have been stuck on an ocean mat at the bottom of the ocean.
The second fossil is named Attenborites janeae after the famed British naturalist Sir David Attenborough. This animal would have been much smaller than the first, not quite reaching one centimeter in length, and has been likened to a raisin in looks with deep grooves inside of it.
The new research on the Ediacaran Era Obamus coronatus and Attenborites janeae fossils that were discovered in Southern Australia has been published in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences.