University of Cambridge  

Earth Sciences

Bag-like sea creature was

humans’ oldest known ancestor

Artist’s reconstruction of Saccorhytus coronarius, based on the original fossil finds.  Credit Jian Han

Researchers have identified what they suggest is the earliest ancestor of humans – a microscopic, bag-like sea creature, which lived about 540 million years ago. Saccorhytus, named after its sack-like and elliptical body with a large mouth, was found in China. 


If their conclusions, co-authored by the Department's Simon Conway Morris, are correct, then Saccorhytus was the common ancestor of a huge range of species, and the earliest step yet discovered on the evolutionary path that eventually led to humans.

Read more


Alumni panel discussion at the Geological Society in London

Save the date

Our next Earth Sciences alumni panel discussion: 'Deep Geological Disposal', will be held at The Geological Society in London on Monday, 20 November.


Invitations will be sent by email only. Please contact Alison if you are interested in hearing more about this event.

Read more

GeoCam cover shot 2017


The next edition of GeoCam will be sent out in early March. Do please let us know if your contact details have changed, either by contacting Alison or by updating your details below.

Update details

Science Festival logo 2017

Science Festival, 13-26 March

Enjoy an evening of short talks about our amazing collection at the Sedgwick Museum and explore the galleries by twilight: 'Sedgwick Snapshots', 6pm on Wednesday, 22 March.

Don't forget to visit the Department for 'The Explosive Earth' to explore earthquakes in volcanoes on Saturday, 18 March, 10am-4pm.

Read more

Dr Julia Gottschalk & Charlotte Schooman sampling an ocean 'box core' from a Shackleton site in 2013

Geology from the oceans

'Unlocking the history of climate change from the bottom of the sea': a Sedgwick Museum exhibition is looking at ways in which sediments from the sea floor have been used over the last fifty years to discover more about the history of the planet.

What's On