New vertebrate fossils discovered in Siberia have challenged our understanding of evolution by dating approximately 20 million years earlier than previously believed the first vertebrates existed, according to the Daily Mail.
The remains date back more than 500 million years ago, and are believed to be the oldest marine organisms discovered thus far, possessing an even more complex structure than the remains previously found in China and Namibia.
"If these are indeed the oldest fossils in the world, these specimens are a treasure of a planetary scale," said Zhu Maoyan, Professor at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology. "They are very valuable for science and will be able to change our understanding of the evolution of animals on Earth."
Analysis is currently being carried out to confirm the validity of the scientific conclusions made on the age and significance of the vertebrate fossils, according to Press Examiner.
Further analysis is to be carried out at Edinburgh University, Moscow State University, and the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology; each institution will have the job of analyzing separate aspects of the fossilized remains. The findings could further our understanding of various areas of science connected to evolution, according to The Siberian Times.
"What I'm particularly interested is to understand, studying the probes I took here, is the process of the accumulation of oxygen in the ocean," said Rachel Wood, a professor from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
"The oxygen content in the ocean has not always been as it is now. We need to understand when sufficient oxygen was accumulated in the ocean and how it is connected with the evolution of animals," she added.