Scientists say 2.1bn-year-old fossils may show evidence of self-propelled motion

A collection of short wiggly structures discovered in ancient rocks could be the earliest fossilised traces of organisms able to move themselves, scientists say.

If scientists are correct, the 2.1bn-year-old structures point to an earlier origin than generally thought for eukaryotes – cells with a membrane-bound nucleus and which make up plants, animals and fungi – previouslybelieved to have first emerged about 1.8bn years ago. It also pushes back the earliest evidence of self-propelled movement of eukaryotes by 1.5bn years – scooping the title from far younger multicellular lifeforms – and would be the first clear signs of motility for any type of organism.

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