Oldest Eye

A 515 million year old fossilised compound eye has been discovered in rocks from an archaeology dig on Australia. From a period when it was thought creatures only had very basic vision, an eye similar to the complexity of a modern day arthropod, is one of the greatest fossils finds in modern history.

This is the first time that something such a complex organ from the Cambrian has been discovered. Apparently, it may be one of the “greatest fossils finds” of our time.

“There’s about 3000 little lenses all lined up with larger ones in the centre and smaller ones to the periphery,” SA Museum palaeontologist Dr Jim Gehling said.

“The only animals that we know of today that do that are arthropods, things like crayfish and crabs and your regular house flies.”

The fossil is believed to come from the Cambrian era, from 540 to 510 million years ago, when the ‘first real explosion of life’ evolved.

“This is a creature which probably had quite good vision for a marine creature.”

The fossil is the first of its kind from the Cambrian period to be discovered in the world.

The eye fossil was not discovered until Dr Gehling’s colleague Dr Jim Jago showed him a rock that contained a different type of fossil that the eye was discovered.