Dickinsonia Were Flat Bathmat-Sized Soft-Bodied Creatures That Lived 550 Million Years Ago

Posted on May 17, 2017

Dickinsonia in ancient ocean

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) have been studying Dickinsonia, one of the oldest fossil animals. These bathmat-sized creatures lived in the oceans and were flat, soft-bodied creatures.

They ate microbes and algae. The oval-shaped animals ranged in size from less to an inch to several feet wide.

The UCR scientists measured nearly 1,000 Dickinsonia costata specimens in the study. The creatures are believed to have formed communities but not much is known about them. An artist's interpretation of a Dickinsonia is pictured above and an image of a fossil is pictured below. The animals lacked a mouth, gut and anus. The study found that the development of the creature was "complex and systematic" in order for it to maintain its desired oval shape. The researchers also found that the Dickinsonia is not ancestrally related to bilaterians.

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal, PLOS One.



Dickinsonia fossil


Photo: University of California, Riverside