Funisia dorothea is an extinct organism from the Ediacaran period (635 ma - 543 ma) and it is one of the first complex multi-cellular organisms to appear on Earth.
Funisia was discovered in the Ediacara Hills of South Australia in 2005. It may superficially appear to belong to the plant kingdom but it is considered an entirely different extinct lifeform that didn't require photosynthesis. Its relationship to any existing phylum (if any) is still an open question.
Funisia grew up to 300 mm in height, in large clusters of similar sized individuals. It had a concatenated morphology - consisting of a chain of simple cellular units - and it was attached to the seabed (sessile).
Although sexual reproduction is thought to have evolved at an earlier stage in the history of life on earth, Funisia represents the first evidence of this. Its fossil remains are found as clustered groups of individuals of the same age. This is strikingly similar to the dispersal patterns of modern day corals that release drifts of reproductive cells (gametes) into the surrounding ocean. It is difficult to account for this form of dispersal other than by sexual reproduction (Droser, Gehling, 2008).
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