The Very First Animal Appeared Amid an Explosion of DNA

Matter

The Very First Animal Appeared Amid an Explosion of DNA

Creatures as diverse as the humpback whale and the ladybug all descend from the very first animal, which appeared hundreds of millions of years ago.CreditLeft, Michael Sale; right, Aarthi Narayanan

By Carl Zimmer

The animal kingdom is one of life’s great success stories — a collection of millions of species that swim, burrow, run and fly across the planet. All that diversity, from ladybugs to killer whales, evolved from a common ancestor that likely lived over 650 million years ago.

No one has found a fossil of the ur-animal, so we can’t say for sure what it looked like. But two scientists in Britain have done the next best thing. They’ve reconstructed its genome…