Family reunions are the worst. So many people you wish weren’t related to you all gathered in one spot. Look, there is Aunt Gertrude, passed out in the corner. Fortunately, she had been awake enough to drink half the keg and a handle of rum. Oh, look. There is Uncle Leo. Much like the version on Seinfeld, this one is all hands. Also, who could forget Saccorhytus coronarius? It is the life of the party with all those teeth. Wait, you don’t know (too many greats to count) grandparent Sac? Oh, let me get you up to speed then. It is quite the tale.
Saccorhytus, according to Chinese scientists, is the earliest ancestor to humans. A marine organism, the microscopic life form existed at least 540 million years ago. This was the heart of the Cambrian Period, during which diversity was the hot buzzword among organisms. To go along with Saccorhytus, there were also sea squirts and penis worms. Saccorhytus is an early member of the deuterostomes. This is a group consisting of vertebrates, such as amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. This includes humans.
The millimeter sized Saccorhytus, Latin for “Wrinkled Sack,” looks like a black grain of sand. However, tests revealed that it had muscles, a thin layer of skin, and, possibly, gills. All of this meant it could move around to hunt. It lived on the bottom of shallow seas, amid grains of sand. There, it relied on its massive mouth to eat small animals and pieces of larger food. In total, its four rows of teeth and mouth made up half of its entire body. Scientists believe that large mouth may have served two purposes. This belief exists because Saccorhytus did not have an anus. Perhaps South Park really did figure out human evolution 20 years ago when it suggested we should poop out of our mouths.
Although this wrinkled sack of a microscopic marine organism may not look like humanity’s ancestor, there is one clearly recognizable shared characteristic. In both cases, humans and Saccorhytus coronaries have bodies that reflect bilateral symmetry. This development model was typical for organisms evolving during the Cambrian Period.