The half a billion year old graptolite fossil that lay in a museum draw for over century has sehd light on how early planktonic organisms built their complicated and many levelled homes. These organisms developed specialist functions in order to complete the build; similar to the formation of a team, each member has a different role but as a whole they work towards the same result.
Examing the fossil during a regular study session, Dr Jan Zalasiewicz from our Department of Geology discovered something that had been previously overlooked. The fossil shows the interconnected living arrangements between the animals that lived inside - rather than the animals themselves. Therefore, highlighting that the animals of the colonies could not have been the same, but rather different in size and arrangement within the different aspects of the settlement itself.
Dr Zalasiewicz described it as a sheer stroke of luck when the light hit the fossils in the right way and showed the complex fossilised networks of varying formations. It is now thought that these networks delineate the animals through the division of tasks such as feeding and building.