• The earliest footprints left by an animal on Earth, dating back some 541 million years, have been uncovered in China
  • The footprints were found in Yangtze Gorges area of South China and dates back to the Ediacaran Period

An international team of researchers are claiming to have discovered the world’s oldest footprints.

Animal footprints that are 550 million years old were reportedly discovered in China. The prints were claimed to have been made by an unknown sea creature that was undoubtedly very strange.

It is unclear what kind of tiny creature left the tracks, which lie just a few millimeters apart and looked like  two rows of shallow depressions, or holes, marked in the dark grey limestone.

“This is considered the earliest animal fossil footprint record,” said the report in the US journal, Science Advances.

The footprints were found in Yangtze Gorges area of South China, and dates back to the Ediacaran Period, sometimes called the Vendian Period, and fossils found during this period are exceptionally rare. The few animals that lived during this bygone era, between 635 million and 541 million years ago, were exclusively soft shelled, featuring no bones, teeth, or hard shells.

Image via Top China Travel

“The rock that contains the fossil has been very well dated between 551 and 541 million years old,” a study author, Zhe Chen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said.

“Previously identified footprints are between 540 and 530 million years old. The new fossils are probably up to 10 million years older.”

Unfortunately for scientists, the creature that made the footprints did not die nearby and leave an equally well preserved fossil to be studied.

That leaves a mystery about what kind of animal left the tracks.