By Tanya Lewis
A fossilized creature found in Canada probably didn’t go to the gym, but it may be the oldest animal known to have muscles, a new study finds.
The specimen, which is approximately 560 million years old, is thought to be a relative of sea anemones and jellyfish, and contains fibrous bundles that appear to be muscle tissue, an important adaptation in the evolution of animals, according to a new study detailed today (Aug. 26) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“It’s confirmation that muscular organisms were present roughly 560 million years ago,” said study co-author Alex Liu, a paleontologist at the University of Cambridge in England.
Historically, scientists believed animal evolution began 540 million years ago during the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid evolution when most major animal groups first appear in the fossil record.