Even if you are not a science nerd you should remember from your grade school days that all life began in the sea. As time went on, some sea animals moved onto land. We humans, for example, descend from animals that dwelled within the sea hundreds of millions of years ago. Some very old fossils have been found from the time when animals were transitioning to the land from the sea. One of the oldest fossils is of an ancient daddy long legs spider-like creature. This fossil was determined by experts to be four hundred million years old. However, researchers from America and the United Kingdom have found a fossil that is even older than the daddy long leg. In fact, the recently discovered fossil showed an ancient millipede, which was the very first animal to move to the land from the sea.
The fossilized millipede was found by an amatueur fossil collector named Mike Newman. The fossil was discovered at Cowie Harbour, south of Aberdeen in Scotland. Newman was honored to learn that the fossilized species was named after him. The earliest millipede species has been named Pneumodesmus newmani. The fossilized millipede is four hundred and twenty million years old. The researchers who analyzed the fossil discovered spiracles located on its body. Modern millipedes also possess spiracles, and they are used for breathing in oxygen from the environment. Oxygen enters small openings (spiracles) on the millipede’s body in order to reach cells within its body. These spiracles are the oldest ever found, which indicates that this organism was the very first to have been capable of breathing on land. Millipedes are interesting creatures in that even modern millipedes have a similar appearance to the oldest millipedes in natural history. This is why millipedes are often referred to as “living fossils”.
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