Half billion year old deep-sea social network discovered

social network of rangeomorphs

Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford have uncovered fossilized threads that connected the first animals on Earth, known as rangeomorphs. Being popularized as a social network formation via filaments in the scientific fraternity, they were traced back to the coast of the sea in Newfoundland, Canada. The findings were reported in the reputed journal ‘Current Biology’.

Crux of the Matter

Who are These Rangeomorphs ?
Rangeomorphs are thought to be one of the earliest nonmicroscopic, fern-like animals on Earth, who spread significantly during the end of the Ediacaran period, 635 million years ago. Despite having no detectable mouths, guts, reproductive organs or means of transportation, they lived in large colonies at the bottom of the ocean.

How Did they Network?
According to a statement by the lead study author Alexander Liu, a professor at Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, “These organisms seem to have been able to quickly colonize the seafloor via filaments, and we often see one dominant species on these fossil beds.”

The specimens appeared to be connected to each other by long, string-like filaments that ranged anywhere from a few inches to 13 feet (4 meters) in length. This connected rangeomorphs from seven different species and formed a primitive sea social network.

Is the Colony Stabilization Password-Protected for Us?
It is being speculated that the filaments may have helped stabilize colony members against strong currents and transfer resources from animal to animal. They could also be acting as tools for clonal reproduction, a type of asexual reproduction where the parent organism creates multiple identical clones of itself.

Till now, the team of scientists has found fossilized filaments connecting rangeomorphs at 38 dig sites. Since these species never moved around on their own, the fossil record includes entire colonies of the creatures preserved as they actually lived.


Fossil is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, objects preserved in amber, hair, petrified wood, oil, coal, and DNA remnants. The totality of fossils is known as the fossil record. The oldest fossils are around 3.48 billion years old to 4.1 billion years old. The observation in the 19th century that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led to the recognition of a geological timescale and the relative ages of different fossils. More Info