This Fossilized Creature Has the World’s Oldest Muscles


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.


  1. Steven Pinker has said, “The bicycle is a triumph of engineering: you’ve got combined, the biochemical efficiency of muscle, which has been honed by a billion years of evolution, with the one thing that evolution could not produce; namely, the wheel.”

    So, although it would be a bit of a stretch, it could be said that the emanation of this little bugger has led to le Tour de France.

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