This Worm-y Critter Is (Probably) Our Oldest Ancestor | SciShow News

This Worm-y Critter Is (Probably) Our Oldest Ancestor | SciShow News

[♪ INTRO] Humans belong to a large and proud lineage
of animals known as bilaterians. Bilaterian because we are all bilaterally
symmetrical; you can draw a line down the middle of us and each half is basically a reflection of
the other. Paleontologists have long suspected that our
lineage arose more than 550 million years ago in the Ediacaran
Period, just before animals of all shapes exploded
in diversity during the Cambrian. But the only solid evidence they could find
of these long lost ancestors were tiny horizontal tunnels preserved in
fossilized sand…until now. This week, researchers publishing in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences describe wormlike fossils that date back over
half a billion years! For decades, paleontologists have been intrigued
by small, curved, linear grooves found in rocks that date back more than half
a billion years. These suspected burrows, dubbed “Helminthoidichnites”, have been found all over the world. And many experts agree that they are evidence that tiny bilaterians wiggled around in the
Ediacaran. But there were other organisms living back
then that aren’t directly related to modern animals. And no one could find fossils of the burrow-makers
themselves. Then, researchers from the University of California
Riverside noticed some strange, tiny, oval-ish divots while examining
some of these ancient burrow fossils. In fact, these teeny impressions were in the
same layer as the tunnels, which meant they probably existed at the same
time. So, the team used special 3D laser scanners
to create detailed images of the impressions. Those revealed that the divots were imprints
of cylindrical creatures with tiny muscular grooves on their bodies. Whatever made these fossils would’ve been
one to two millimeters wide and anywhere from 2 to 7 millimeters long; a perfect fit for those mysterious burrows! And they probably had many of the same features that you, and I, and other bilaterians have
today. For instance, the scans showed that one end
was wider than the other, which likely means that they had a front and
a back. I know that, maybe like, having a front end
and a back end might not sound that remarkable, but in the
Ediacaran, it was. Plus, the researchers think they munched their
way through a mat of microbes on the ocean floor, so they must have had mouths, guts, and anuses. The team decided to call these worm-like creatures
Ikaria wariootia after the Indigenous Australian names for
the site where the fossils were found. And it probably pushed the origin of bilaterians
back by millions of years, though the rocks examined haven’t been conclusively
dated. These mini worms could have even been the
first bilaterians, that is, the first animals to have the full
set of bilaterian traits. Though, even if they weren’t, they can help
paleontologists peer into the past and gain a better understanding of how we
ended up with the wonderful diversity of organisms we have
today. Speaking of wonderful complexity: in a new
paper published this week in Cell Reports, researchers have mapped and visualized the
physical structure of the microscopic communities growing on
human tongues. Here’s what one of those communities looks
like. The gray stuff in the middle is tongue tissue,
and all those colorful spots are microbes. Beautiful, right? Who’d have thought tongue
bacteria could be so pretty. And this image isn’t just stunning. It demonstrates that we can take detailed
pictures of our microbial mouth residents, which oddly enough, may help us learn about
their role in protecting our hearts. It’s no secret that lots of different bacteria
live in people’s mouths. Microbial DNA from oral swabs told scientists
that decades ago. But it wasn’t clear exactly where these
bacteria are. Knowing that could help researchers figure
out how these microbes interact with one other and with our cells,
an idea known as spatial ecology. That way, we can get a better idea of how
they impact us. So, over the past decade, the researchers
have been developing an imaging technique called CLASI-FISH which lets them distinguish between similar-looking
microbes when they zoom in on bacterial communities. Essentially, this technique labels microbes
with fluorescent pigments by attaching those pigments to genetic material that match to the microbe’s genetic molecules. For this new study, 21 volunteers scraped
the tops of their tongues to provide a film of bacteria, saliva, and
tongue cells, which was then preserved with ethanol or formaldehyde. Next, it was time to add some color. Different kinds of bacteria got their own
fluorescent pigments, so when the researchers shined different colors
of light on them, they could see where they were. Then, they combined images of all those colors
to build the beautiful maps. Though everyone’s tongue microbes were slightly
different, it was clear right away that the bacterial
communities had lots of structure to them. Certain bacteria tended to attach themselves
directly to tongue cells, while others preferred the edges of the microbial
moshpit. These patterns likely arise from differences between the various microbes’ physiological
needs. And the researchers in the study think our
cells might play a role in creating ideal homes for different species
to encourage their growth. They noted that many of these microbes are
able to strip an oxygen from a nitrate to make nitrite, a molecule that can be used
to make nitric oxide. So it may be that our oral microbes help us
make more nitric oxide than we’d be able to otherwise, and that,
in turn, has real impacts on our health. See, among other things, nitric oxide helps
regulate blood pressure. And recent studies have found that higher
activity of our oral microbes is associated with lower blood pressure. So researchers in this experiment think that our tongues may be cultivating these bacteria
to improve our health. But they’ll need to study the communities
and their structure more to discern all the details, like for example, how to best use this information
to improve people’s lives. And the team is excited to image other microbiomes,
too, to better understand the mysterious workings
of the microbial world. Thank you for watching this episode of SciShow
News! And especially, thank you to all of you who
are patrons of the show on Patreon. We wouldn’t be able to make our weekly science
news episodes if it weren’t for the support of our Patreon
community. We wouldn’t be able to make most of our
episodes, in fact. Our patrons not only support us, they inspire
us and help us come up with ideas for episodes with their
questions, comments, both here and on our patron-only Discord channel. So thank you patrons, for being awesome. And if you want to join this community or
learn more about it, you can go on over to [♪ OUTRO]


100 thoughts on “This Worm-y Critter Is (Probably) Our Oldest Ancestor | SciShow News”

  • Wariootia…..
    Uh huh.
    Named after place it was found huh?
    I see you. Sticking Wario into the tree of life.

    Good job scientists. Good job. ?

  • So, I have been attempting some research and I am having some difficulty finding the answer to my question. I take blood thinners and have had blood clots. I suffer from a genetic clotting disorder. I was attempting to discover if this either the drug, or my condition, affects my immune system. However, all I can find is studies about how clotting (obviously in a dangerous way) could be a reaction OF the immune system to unknown factor.
    I hardly ever got sick before I had a clot, then I was sick more and more often despite no change in my rather OCD routine. ( A bit of germaphobe but most might not notice.)

  • ᠯᡠᠪᡵᡳ ᠮᠠᡳᠯᠠᠰᡠᠨ says:

    Speaking of bilateral symmetrical, why is my right testicle higher than my left one?

  • shoved to the right? says:

    When you said bilateral because we are symmetrical down the lateral line and instantly i thought of the organs like the liver that is only on the one side and muscle like the heart that again are only on one side….. I'm sure there is question in there somewhere about why we only have 1 of each when we have 2 kidneys and 2 lungs! i'm just not sure how to word it! LOL

  • What happens to the good bacteria on our tongues after we brush our teeth? Are we loosing the benefits from those bacteria every time we clean our mouth?

  • Mwangi kabacho says:


  • hey #Smart guy you are defending #real #people being used as batteries.. watch how does Dustin sells his soul for a #Chip of metal he (stole).. let's take a tour of this underground #Factory… #unsubed

  • This could be your advertisement! says:

    I think the title is a bit misleading. What you’re talking about in the video is the (potential) last common ancestor of bilaterians, NOT our “oldest ancestor” period. If this were in fact our “oldest ancestor” then that would mean that these worms must have been spontaneously generated.

  • To those 1% who see this comment:

    Please don't get out of your homes unnecessarily and wash your hands and don't touch your face as much as possible. People in NYC are dying left and right. 40k infected. No more beds. Please understand the severity of this. Even the young are not very safe.

    May you and your loved one live long and healthy!

  • PLEASE DO A VIDEO ON DOG FOOD!!! GRAIN-FREE, CORN KIBBLE, RAW, EVEN VEGAN DIETS. I HAVE FRIENDS WHO HAVE THEIR DOGS ON THESE DIETS BUT WHOS RIGHT? CANT FIND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON THIS ☹️ And I'm trying not to worry but I have my dog on grain free kibble which a while ago was shown to give dogs heart problems. It was a small pool of dogs and the predominant diet was grain free diets that had potatoes and lentil as the top 10 first ingredients. Show me the science SciShow!!!!! ???

  • The first BILATERALS.
    Our first BILATERAL ancestors.
    They didn't spontanous come to life out of nothing.
    Our oldest ancestors were single celled organisms – and we probably share them with all living things, definitivly with every multicellular organism.

  • Bible: 700BC – Death and life are in the power of the tongue ~ Proverbs 18:21a.

    Science: 2020AD – Our tongues create microbes to improve our health.

    Me: … ah science, spending millions to discover what we already know.

  • Now, that's a plausible theory to support the evolution of intelligent life as we know it.
    The evolution of our nervous system is traced back to the lifeforms with the most basic neurological network. If a type of worm was the first animal who evolved the bilaterian nervous system, then we evolved from worms. And that's all due to the complexity of the brain.

  • That thumbnail is totally a wrapped up D, complete with reservoir tip, laying on some lady parts. I think the graphic artist pulled one on you guys.

  • temporarysanity says:

    It's hilarious that a science show actually teaches the religion of evolution. The only time the hypothesis of evolution was ever marginally scientific was when it was first proposed by Darwin. He had the advantage of not knowing what we now know about microbiology, biochemistry, genetics and the incredible complexity of the simplest forms of life. As far as science goes evolution is a joke. It's a religion with an almost infinite number of mathematical miracles and probabilities that would cause any other hypothesis to be abandoned in a heartbeat. But the hypothesis must be protected at all costs.

  • So he/she is our great, great, great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great, great, great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great great,great,great,great,great,great,great Grandparents.

    Okay cool here's your star ? for scrolling down. ? Stay safe! ?

  • Surely the early bilaterians had ancestors. Our OLDEST ancestors would have been the earliest life of all, billions of years ago.

  • what 98 sickos disliked this. are you guys alright? for real, do you need help? and no, I don't need help with capitalization! one of my shift keys got spilt on so now i'm just mostly done with it. or whatever other excuse might pass as acceptable

  • Not sure why this is being touted as the "first Ediacaran bilaterian" as we've known Kimberella for decades and also recently discovered Yilingia spiciformis. AFAIU the sensational part is that they can be linked to Helminthoidichnites burrows. Also, the through gut is not even a foundational bilaterian characteristic, but evolved independently in differently lineages.

  • How do we know specifically that worm is our ancestor and not any of the many other kinds of animals living back then? Were all the other animals not bilateral?

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