研究证实怪异古化石可能来自某种动物

Scientists say they have confirmed that strange-looking fossils from more than 500 million years ago are remains of an animal.
科学家们表示,他们已经证实来自5亿多年前的怪状化石是某种动物遗骸。

That would make it one of the earliest known creatures.
这将使其成为最古老的已知生物之一。

The fossils are found within rocks. They are round with many lines, and look similar to the markings of a leaf.
这些化石是在岩石里被发现的。它们是圆形的,有很多线条,看去上类似于树叶的印痕。

The fossils were first described in 1947. They have been found in Australia and Russia. Some are very small; others are over a meter long.
这些化石最初于1947年在澳大利亚和俄罗斯被发现。有些非常小,还有些有一米多长。

Scientists have named the mysterious ancient organism that left these fossils behind "Dickinsonia."
科学家们将留这些下化石的神秘古生物命名为狄更逊水母(Dickinsonia)。

But what exactly was it?
但是它们究竟是什么呢?

In the past, some scientists suggested it was an animal. Others believed it was a single-celled organism called a protist.
过去,一些科学家认为它是某种动物,另一些人认为这是一种叫做原生生物的单细胞生物。

Researchers presented evidence that Dickinsonia was an animal in a recent paper. The paper appeared in the publication Science.
研究人员在最新的论文中提出了狄更逊水母是某种动物的证据。这篇论文发表在《科学》期刊上。

The most important evidence was that Dickinsonia fossils found in Russia contained carbon-bearing substances produced by animals.
最重要的证据是俄罗斯发现的狄更逊水母化石含有动物产生的含碳物质。

Experts not connected to the study called that evidence strong. They also said most scientists who had studied the fossils already believed that Dickinsonia was probably an animal.
未涉及这项研究的专家称证据确凿。他们还说,大多数研究过这些化石的科学家都已经相信狄更逊水母可能是一种动物。

Douglas Erwin is with the Smithsonian Institution. He said he is sure the fossils are from an animal.
道格拉斯·欧文(Douglas Erwin)就职于史密森尼学会。他说他确信这些化石是来自动物。

It is not clear when Dickinsonia lived. Some fossils are about 558 million years old, said Jochen Brocks of the Australian National University in Canberra. He was one of the researchers involved in the study.
目前尚不清楚狄更逊水母生活在什么年代。澳大利亚堪培拉国立大学的约亨·布拉克(Jochen Brocks)称有些化石已经有大约5.58亿年之久。布拉克是这项研究的研究人员之一。

Brocks considers Dickinsonia to be "the very oldest animal that we can be sure about. He added that it is about 2 million years older than another widely accepted animal fossil.
布拉克认为狄更逊水母是我们可以确定的最古老的动物。他补充说,它比另一种广受认可的动物化石大约早200万年。

Brocks said scientists do not know much about what Dickinsonia looked like. But he said they do know it was "soft and flexible."
布拉克表示,科学家对狄更逊水母的外表不太了解。但他表示,他们确信它非常柔然有弹性。

Dickinsonia was not the first animal on Earth. Analysis of the genetic materials of living animals suggests that animals first appeared more than 720 million years ago. But scientists have never found fossils that old.
狄更逊水母并非地球上最早的生物。对活体动物遗传物质的分析表明,动物最早出现在7.2亿多年前。但是科学家们从未发现过这么古老的化石。

I'm Susan Shand.
我是苏珊·珊德。(51VOA.COM原创翻译,禁止转载,违者必究!)