May
24

From Earth to the Solar System: Ediacaran

The emergence of complex life: A piece of upturned sandstone in the Flinders Range of South Australia shows ripple marks of an ancient sea bed. This area of Australia hosts fossils of the first complex, multi-cellular organisms which began to emerge on Earth ~600 million years ago. The study of these early fossils, known as the Ediacaran Fauna, help astrobiologists learn more about how complex life arose and evolved on Earth, and how it might evolve on other planets.  (Image Credit: Phoebe Cohen/MIT/NASA Astrobiology Institute)

Records of early complex life: This fossil, called Dickinsonia, is from the Flinders Range of South Australia. While it looks similar to some modern marine worms, its classification is still unknown. Dickinsonia lived about 550 million years ago. It is one of a group of fossils that represent the first complex, multi-cellular organisms on Earth. (Image Credit: Phoebe Cohen/MIT/NASA Astrobiology Institute)


Posted: 24 May 2011
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Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.