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Fossil Find

ANCIENT ANIMAL A Dickinsonia fossil from the Precambrian period DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY—GETTY IMAGES

Scientists have found that a mysterious type of 500 million–year-old fossil, found in Australia and Russia, was formed by an animal. It was one of the earliest creatures on Earth.

The first fossil of this kind was described in 1947. The organism that formed it was dubbed dub © NAUFAL MQ/GETTY IMAGES to give something a name or title (verb) James Brown was dubbed the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business. Dickinsonia. But scientists never knew what the organism was.

On September 20, a team of researchers announced findings proving Dickinsonia was an animal. They studied tiny molecules inside the fossils. Among other things, they found a carbon carbon MIRAGEC/GETTY IMAGES a chemical element that is in all plants and animals (noun) Over millions of years, carbon in the Earth's crust forms diamonds. -carrying substance that is produced by animals.

Jochen Brocks is one of the study’s authors. He told the AP that scientists still don’t know what Dickinsonia looked like. “We do know it was soft and flexible,” he said. “Maybe like a slug, but less watery than a jellyfish.”