For years, geologists have struggled with why life flourished so dramatically during the Cambrian era
. Walker tells the story of how Harvard geologist Paul Hoffman has roiled his field with a new answer.
Until this time the earliest fossils had been found in rocks of the Cambrian era
and were a little over 600 million years old.
"This ancient gene family probably first appeared in the genomes of sea-dwelling creatures prior to the Cambrian era
about 542-million years ago.
Researchers have claimed that the sandstone found at the mines in the region date back to about 600 million years, which would put the fossil in the Ediacaran age, just before the Cambrian era
that saw an explosion in the evolution of species.
At the time, Indian geologist Dr Rafat Azmi reported finding small, shell-like fossils, which were typical of those that date to the Cambrian era
about 500 to 600 million years ago.