When the Environment Changed, Animals Made Skeletons – #365papers – 2017 – 90

#365papers for March 31, 2017

Wood, Ivantsov, and Zhuravlev, 2017, First macrobiota biomineralization was environmentally triggered: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, v 284: 201700059

What’s it about?

It’s skeletons that we mostly see in the fossil record. The fossil record prior to the advent of mineralized skeletons (bones and shells, for example) is pretty sparse. Here, the authors show some very early organisms with skeletons (from around 550 million years ago) that have similar counterparts that lack the skeletons. Skeletons appear to have developed during times of environmental change, when minerals naturally grew around the bodies of the originally soft-bodied animals. Later, organisms took charge of this mineral growth to build the complex skeletons that we see in modern animals and plants.

Why does it matter?

Skeletons are a hard thing to explain. How did we go from single celled organisms, to colonies, to complex animals with different kinds of cells and skeletons? This work helps to explain how organisms first began to work with mineralized skeletons.

Why did I read this?

I have a soft spot for skeletons, especially since my research depends upon skeletal materials. The origin of skeletons is pretty important to me.

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