She lived in the ocean about 750 million years ago. Today, the ocean is gone – replaced by the savannah of Namibia. Long ago, this great-great-great-etc.grandma turned to stone, a tiny fossil. She’s the oldest animal fossil ever found.
The “grandma” who was recently discovered in the Etosha National Park is the remains of a speck-sized, vase-shaped sponge that’s being called Otavia antiqua. Scientists say this proves that sponges are the earliest forms of animal life – 150 million years earlier than anything that’s been found before now. The discovery also confirms theories that sponges were the earliest form of animal life.
“The fossils are small, about the size of a grain of sand, and we have found many hundreds of them,” said study leader Anthony Prave, a geologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “It’s possible that the organisms were very abundant.”
From these tiny “sponges” sprang very big things, the authors suggest. As possibly the first muticellular animals, Otavia could well be the forerunner of dinosaurs, humans-basically everything we think of as “animal.”