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The discovery in Oman pushes back the earliest accepted date for animal life on Earth by tens of millions of years.
The oldest fossilized evidence of animals has been unearthed in Oman and reveals that tiny sea sponges were abundant 635 million years ago, long before most of the planet's other major animal groups evolved, according to a new analysis.
The metazoan ancestor, “choanoblastaea,” was a pelagic sphere consisting of choanocytes. The evolution of multicellularity enabled division of labor between cells, and an “advanced choanoblastaea” consisted of choanocytes and nonfeeding cells. Polarity became established, and an adult, sessile stage developed.