Studies have shown that the first complex marine organisms reproduced via a joint approach.
Scientists have discovered reproduction in some of the earliest complex organisms. It was through a strange method. Rangeomorphs existed 565 million years ago. They made copies of themselves using a joint approach. They sent a colony of their kind to a new area. There the colony settled down.
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The Rangeomorph studied was the Fractofusus. The bigger grandparent Rangeomorphs were at the center of their environment. And the baby Rangeomorphs were at the periphery. This was suggestive of the clustering found in many modern plant species.
Thus a dual mode of reproduction took place in Rangeomorphs. The grandparents were the result of emissions. As for the children they came from runners given off by the older breed. Rangeomorphs comprise the first complex organisms on the planet. They were in fact the first animated forms of life. And they resembled animals in their structures and functions.
They were on the ocean floor during the Ediacaran Period. These organisms had large sizes too. Appearing to be trees and ferns, they had no organs of absorption or excretion. All nutrition and elimination appears to have taken place through the skin.
The Rangeomorphs disappeared during the Cambrian Period. The creatures are completely different from other extinct life forms of the past. They belong in a class of their own. Understanding about them is still at a nascent stage.
Their reproductive strategy was something of chief interest to scientists. Large swathes of their fossils exist in various areas. This has made a study of them pretty easy. The clustering phenomenon is of the essence. It resembles the nested double Thomas cluster model. This occurs in modern plants.
“Rangeomorphs don’t look like anything else in the fossil record, which is why they’re such a mystery,” said Dr Emily Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, and the paper’s lead author.
“But we’ve developed a whole new way of looking at them, which has helped us understand them a lot better – most interestingly, how they reproduced.”
Fast asexual reproduction via runners is the name of the game. And yet the waterborne propagules of the grandparent Rangeomorphs show othr patterns. They might have reproduced in a sexual way as well. This complicates matters.
The sort of reproductive strategies employed by Rangeomorphs were successful. That was because they could colonize fresh vistas and multiply once settled there. They had a complex biological base. It allowed them to switch between sexual and asexual reproduction.
This proved to be quite an advantage. Such sophisticated organisms have been the focus of studies by researchers. They give us a bird’s eye view of our prehistoric past. And the geological record with its fossils proves that we are upstarts on earth. A lot has occurred before mankind’s entry upon the scene.
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