Mistaken Fossil Discovery in India Corrected by Researchers

Geologists visiting the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters in India made a surprising discovery in 2020 – the fossil of Dickinsonia, a primitive animal from before complex animals evolved. The discovery attracted media attention and was widely reported. However, a team of researchers from the University of Florida (UF) has now revealed that the “fossil” was in fact a case of mistaken identity. Complete Roman Era Residential City Discovered in Luxor, Egypt

The object had seemingly decayed significantly, which is unusual for a fossil, and was lying nearly vertical on the walls of the caves. The researchers discovered giant bee nests at the site and found that the mark closely resembled the remains of these hives.

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Joseph Meert, a professor of geology at UF, led the investigation with his graduate students and a professor from the University of Rajasthan. They documented the rapid decay of the object and photographed similar remains from nearby bee hives. The team published their findings in the journal Gondwana Research, which had previously published the report of the “serendipitous” Dickinsonia fossil find.

Correcting the fossil record is a critical part of the scientific process, and the authors of the original paper have now agreed with Meert’s findings that the object was a beehive, not a fossil. The age of the rocks is now back in contention, as there are no fossils from a known time period in the rock formation.

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Meert and his team have used radioactive decay to date the rocks to around one billion years old and the magnetic signature of the rocks matches formations confidently dated to that time period. However, other scientists have reported younger ages.

The age of the rocks has major implications for the evolution of life in the area and the formation of the Indian subcontinent. Understanding the paleogeography at the time is crucial in piecing together the story of life on Earth.

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