Early animals dethroned

Cell division in controversial fossils places them outside the animal kingdom

By Alexandra Witze, 17:16 PM December 22, 2011

The oldest known "animal" fossils may have been living in the wrong kingdom. New images suggest that 570-million-year-old, many-celled blobs from China are not animal embryos as once thought, but rather some kind of spore-releasing cyst.

“They are not animals and they are not embryos,” says Stefan Bengtson, a paleobiologist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. The work, done with colleagues including Philip Donoghue of the University of Bristol in England, appears in the D...

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