Chestnut Hill, MA (5/3/2021) — The billion-year-old fossil of an organism, exquisitely preserved in the Scottish Highlands, reveals features of multicellularity nearly 400 million years before the biological trait emerged in the first animals, according to a new report in the journal Current Biology by an international team of researchers, including Boston College paleobotanist Paul K. Strother.
The discovery could be the “missing link” in the evolution of animals, according to the team, which included scientists from the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia. The microfossil, discovered at Loch Torridon, contains two distinct cell types and could be the earliest example of complex multicellularity ever recorded, according to the researchers.
The fossil offers new insight into the transition of single celled organisms to complex, multicellular animals. Modern single-celled holozoa include the most basal living animals and the