We the Creatures | Saccorhytus
For hundreds of years we have theorized and discussed evolution. In a nutshell, we can assume that after the Big Bang, minuscule organisms formed which eventually evolved into tiny sea creatures, leading to land mammals and then humans. For decades, scientists have been searching for what they call LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor); small pieces of the puzzle to date us back further than primates.
Paleontologists have just discovered what appears to be the earliest know human ancestor, the Saccorhytus. The 540 million year-old fossil was found in sedimentary rock in Shaanxi, Central China. It is microscopic but well preserved, so detail was easily translated into an artistic rendering for a better idea of the creatures' characteristics.
This creature falls into the Deuterostome family, which is a broad range of species including 'vertebrates' or 'backboned animals'. Measuring in at roughly one millimeter, it is thought to have lived between grains of sand on the seabed.
Characteristics include a spine, large mouth and symmetrical definition. It would have been covered with a flexible but thin layer of skin and muscle, using contractions to move around much like an urchin. An interesting observation was the absence of an anus, suggesting that food went in and came out through the same orifice, its mouth. Conical formations on the body appear to be early stages of what we now know as gills with possible sensory structures.
Although we have only discovered one thousandth of a percent of estimated species on earth, this Saccorhytus creature is now the oldest known to have ties with humanity.