Our Earliest Ancestor Was A Terrifying Monster With No Butthole And A Huge Mouth

The original talker of shit

Strikingly similar to the ballerina from Cabin in the Woods And, we're sleeping with the light on. Image Lionsgate

Humans belong to a large group of animals called deuterostomes, which includes vertebrate like starfish and us. Yes, we are related to sea urchins and starfish. Explains some of your relatives doesn’t it?

Speaking of deuterostomes – scientists based at the University of Cambridge have found a fossil of a tiny, prehistoric creature that they believe is the oldest deuterostome on earth. Meaning that his specimen could be or very similar to our earliest ancestor. It was found in sedimentary rock in Central China and is a millimetre in size. 

Don’t get too excited. It’s disgusting. Named Saccorhytus coronarious, the tiny fossil under a microscope looks like a small grain of rice. Once Simon Conway Morris, professor of Paleobiology, put it under a powerful electron microscope though, they saw something unbelievable.

Saccorhytus coronarius, S Conway Morris / Jian Han

 

The first aspect of this bilateral (human-like symmetry) beast was a massive mouth that was able to dilate according to the size of prey.

Because these things lived in the seabeds and resided under sand – they would have ingested a large amount of water when they swallowed food with their large mouths. Therefore Morris suggests that they expelled excess fluid through holes on each side of their globular, sac-like bodies.

“These are, we suggest, the precursors of what we call the gill slits which you see in a fish,” he told The Guardian.

The fossil Jian Han, Northwest University, China

It gets worse. Not only did the animal have a huge mouth, but it also had no butthole or anus.

“These things are so small, you can envisage something which is basically just a digestive sack with holes on the side,” he said of the new creatures. 

Gross.

But what does this find tell us about our evolutionary past? We need to look closer.

“The question here of course is: is it possible that there is a deep, cryptic history that has almost entirely eluded discovery because these things are absolutely tiny?” he said.

The truth is still out there…

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Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.