(CNN)A newly discovered fossil site in China that dates back 518 million years contains more than 50% previously unknown species, according to a new study. The well-preserved Qingjiang site is helping scientists to fill gaps in the fossil record and provide a clearer picture of some of the earliest animal ecosystems.
The site is unique in that it not only includes well-preserved fossils but soft-bodied organisms as well. Some of the animals include corals, sponges, sea anemones, jellyfish, comb jellies, arthropods and tiny invertebrates called mud dragons, as well as microscopic fossils.
Study - Thursday - Journal - Science
The study published Thursday in the journal Science.
The discovery is comparable to other impressive sites like the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, discovered in 1909, Chengjiang in China and Emu Bay Shale in Australia. Burgess dates to 508 million years ago and includes well-preserved fossils, including soft bodies that show evidence of skin, eyes, gut and brains.
Sites - Standard - Scientists - Explosion - Years
The sites are the gold standard for scientists piecing together the Cambrian Explosion about 540 million years ago, when an immensely diverse animal population suddenly appeared over a short time. Researchers have discovered more sites containing great records of the Cambrian Explosion in recent years, like the Qingjiang site.
The researchers excavated fossils on a bank of the Danshui River.
Researchers - Qingjiang - Site
The researchers who worked on the Qingjiang site believe...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNN
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