A sponge fossil, dating to the Late Carboniferous Period, is set to shed light on the evolution of life and the origins and spread of life in the universe.
The fossil, discovered in the Mariana Trench, a geological formation on the western coast of the Philippines, is estimated to be about 250 million years old, or nearly 100 million years younger than the oldest known fossil of the genus Placenta, which lived around the same time as the sponge fossil.
“This is the oldest fossil in the world that has an embryo in its genome, a fertilized egg that is still alive and developing and has an active life cycle,” Dr. Richard Baeck, the head of the marine mammal paleontology program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, told the Associated Press news agency.
The fossils, which date back to the time when the planet was more liquid and more crowded with life, will help scientists understand how life spread throughout the universe, he said.
The sponge fossil was discovered in a deep sea trench, about 100 metres (328 feet) below the surface, by a fisherman called Antonio Doria Jr., a native of the Philippine islands of Mindanao and Davao.
The team is calling it the “sponge sponge fossil” in honour of its namesake, Antonio Dora Jr.
Doria said the fossils were found in the trench of the Marias Trench in the Philippine archipelago.
They belonged to a species of marine life called the sponge gandala, which are thought to have been the primary producers of sponge fossils.
“The sponge gANDALA is one of the most famous fossil species in the Philippines,” he told the AP.
“Its name is very important, because it’s the first one that was identified from this site,” Doria said.
“The sponge is a fossil of an intermediate form, and we’ve named it the sponge sponge.”
The fossil’s name is “sponges,” but the sponge itself is known as “spade gANDalas” because it resembles the spade used in a game.
It’s not the first time a sponge fossil has been found, however.
In 2006, a team led by geochemist Thomas Baecker of the University of Washington unearthed a sponge gANGLALA.
But Baeber told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that it was only when he saw the fossil in person that he realized it was a sponge.
“When I saw it in person, I was blown away.
I was thinking, ‘I am a sponge!'”
Baegger told the ABC.
“It was a spectacular specimen.”
The sponge fossils are not the only fossils found in deep-sea trench sedimentary rocks.
The Marias Fossil Basin is one such geological formation that sits beneath the surface of the planet.
It is a part of the world’s deepest trench system, which has been forming for more than 60 million years, scientists say.
“What you see in the trenches is what the ocean is like,” said geochemists Michael W. Cramer and Michael T. Hargreaves at the University at Buffalo in New York, in a press release.
“You can see layers of sediments and layers of rocks that have been eroded and fractured.
You can see the history of how the ocean changed.”
The deep-water trench system that forms the Maricas Fossil basin.
(National Geographic/National Geographic)A sponge fossil may be one of many evidence for life’s origins.
The sponge fossil’s fossilized remains are found in several places on the Marians Fossil area, which sits in a trench known as the “Marias Trenches.”
The fossil, as well as the others found in these areas, were found near a fossil lake.
The Marias and the Maria Fossil are about 1,300 kilometres (620 miles) apart.
“They are about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) and 3,000 kilometers (1.5 miles) from each other, which means that the sponge is probably in the deepest part of these two areas,” Cramer told AP.
The fossils are so far apart that “it is not possible to tell which is which,” he said, adding that they may be different organisms.
Baecker and Hargreeves found the fossil fossil at the mouth of the river Pangasinan, which connects the Marian Basin and the other Marias basin.
“There are also some other fossil species that we can’t identify yet, but we are looking at them and trying to figure out their relationships,” Baecking said.
“It’s the sponge that we’re looking at,” he added.