Punctures in 750-million-year-old eukaryote fossils suggest predation drove self-defense evolution
BALTIMORE — Microscopic vampires may have prowled the ancient seas around 750 million years ago. The fossilized remains of their punctured victims may be the oldest direct evidence of predators hunting eukaryotes, a domain of complex organisms that includes plants and animals.
While the monstrous microbes probably didn’t look like miniature Count Draculas, “they’re just as terrifying, at least if you’re a single-celled organism,” said paleontologist Susannah Porter of the University of California, Santa Barbara November 1 at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting.
The predators perforated holes in their prey and then slurped the victim’s juicy innards, Porter proposed. This predation helped drive single- and multicelled eukaryotes to evolve innovations such as skeletons and the ability to burrow as they fought to survive, Porter suggested.