Sea sponge could be the first animal on Earth

Published on Feb 22, 2016

New genetic analyses led by MIT researchers confirm that sea sponges are the source of a curious molecule found in rocks that are 640 million years old. These rocks significantly predate the Cambrian explosion — the period in which most animal groups took over the planet, 540 million years ago — suggesting that sea sponges may have been the first animals to inhabit the Earth. (Learn more:

Video: Melanie Gonick/MIT

Protein simulation/additional imagery: David Gold
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Comb Jelly footage courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre (
Music sampled from, "Another Version of You" by Chris Zabriskie