Earliest animal traces found, according to reports in ScienceNOW 4 Feb 2009, ScienceDaily and Nature vol457, p718, 5 Feb 2009. A team of scientists who were analysing sedimentary rocks in south Oman have found “anomalously high amounts of 24-IPC” – a steroid chemical only produced by the animal class labelled Demospongiae, which includes most modern sponges. The rocks are dated at 635 million years, making them about 100 million years pre-Cambrian. Sponges are believed to be one of many kinds of multi-cellular animals that suddenly evolved in the “Cambrian Explosion” of life.

The steroids found by the researchers are an essential part of sponge cell membranes, where they help support the membranes. Gordon Love, who started working on the project when he was a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explained the significance of the discovery: “Our findings suggest that the evolution of multicellular animals began earlier than has been thought. Moreover, sponges live on the seafloor, growing initially in shallow waters and spreading, over time, into deeper waters, implying the existence of oceanic environments which contained dissolved oxygen near the shallow seafloor around 635 million years ago.” According to ScienceNOW, palaeobiologist, Kevin Peterson of Dartmouth College said the discovery confirms that “we animals can all trace our origins back to sponges.”


Editorial Comment: This discovery certainly confirms that sponge cell membranes have been the same as present day sponge cell membranes for as long as they can be proved to have been on the planet. However, despite Kevin Peterson’s claims, it’s actually not evidence that sponges turned into people. Instead, it is good evidence sponges have multiplied after their kind, as Genesis says God created them to do. (Ref. invertebrates, fossils, biochemistry)