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University of Missouri-Columbia

A 550 million-year-old fossilized digestive tract found in the Nevada desert could be a key find in understanding the early history of animals on Earth. Over a half-billion years ago, life on Earth was comprised of simple ocean organisms unlike anything living in today’s oceans. Then, beginning about 540 million years ago, animal structures changed dramatically. An analysis of tubular fossils by scientists led by Jim Schiffbauer at the University of Missouri provides evidence of one of the oldest known examples of fossilized internal anatomical structures and reveals what scientists believe is a possible answer to the question of how these animals are connected.

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