• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Ancient reef found in Africa

REMAINS of a reef built 550 million years ago by the first animals to have hard shells have been discovered on dry land in Namibia.

The tiny animals that constructed the reef, known as Cloudina, evolved from soft-bodied ancestors.

Scientists at Edinburgh University found that the creatures attached themselves to fixed surfaces and each other using a natural cement made from calcium carbonate.

They may have developed their reef-building ability to protect themselves against increased threats from predators. Reefs also provided access to nutrient-rich currents at a time of growing competition for food and living space.

The development of hard biological structures sparked a dramatic increase in the biodiversity of ocean ecosystems. Professor Rachel Wood, who led the research published in the journal Science, said: "Modern reefs are major centres of biodiversity with sophisticated ecosystems. Like corals, animals build reefs to defend against predators and competitors. We have found that animals were building reefs even before the evolution of complex animal life."

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

243513