S. Conway Morris/Jian Han art

Our Oldest Known Ancestor Was a Sack of Horror That Shit Out of Its Own Mouth

Donald Trump might approve

Ajai Raj
Ajai Raj
Feb 7, 2017 · 3 min read


Everyone’s got a family member they’d prefer not to be associated with, for one reason or another. But now, literally everyone has got a family member we’d prefer not to be associated with.

Meet Saccorhytus coronarius, a vanishingly small creature that lived some 540 million years ago, and which may be the earliest known ancestor of humans, as well as a variety of other species.

An international team of scientists described the newly discovered miniature Lovecraftian horror, discovered in Cambrian limestone sediments in China’s Shaanxi province, in a recent article in the journal Nature.

At about a millimeter in size, Saccorhytus likely spent its time hanging out between grains of sand in the ancient seabed, engulfing food particles and smaller creatures in its maw. Those cylindrical protuberances, suggestive of teeth and eyes, are likely primitive precursors to gills, and possibly sensory organs.

And that maw — well, it probably wasn’t just a maw. Being that the creature lacks a discernible anus, it’s entirely possible that Saccorhytus coronarius shat out of its own mouth.

Saccorhytus coronarius is now the earliest known example of a “deuterostome,” an extremely broad and primitive biological category from which vertebrates, among many other types of creatures, are believed to have emerged. Prior to the discovery of this creature, the earliest known deuterostomes were from about 520 million years ago.

We don’t know much about deuterostomes. This discovery suggests that the earliest creatures in this category might have been “meiofaunal,” as Saccorhytus coronarius appears to be — that is, living in the interstices of the aquatic seabed.

The extremely small size of Saccorhytus coronarius also goes to confirm suspicions that, past a certain point in the fossil record, creatures become so small as to easily slip between the cracks, as it were, of fossilization.

Is there a better creature to exemplify Americans in Donald Trump’s America, under the spell of late capitalism? Horror sacks wearing false crowns, blind, innumerable and invisible, yet all-consuming, shitting out of our own mouths.

Saccorhytus coronarius isn’t the ancestor we want, but maybe it’s the ancestor we deserve.

Writing is hard. Money is short. Support this writer! Follow Defiant on Facebook and Twitter.


We are the loyal opposition

Ajai Raj

Written by

Ajai Raj

Comedian, writer, once called“The Thinking Man’s Donkey Kong” by Nintendo Power magazine.



We are the loyal opposition

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade