That's hundreds of millions of years before dinosaurs started roaming Earth, about 245 million years ago.
The characteristics of the trackways indicated that they were produced by bilaterian animals with paired appendages that raised the animal body above the water-sediment interface.
For comparison, non-bilateral animals include sponges, corals, jellyfish, and anemones.
"This is considered the earliest animal fossil footprint record", the researchers wrote in the report. Well, the team has it narrowed down to a bilaterian animal - a creature with bilateral symmetry, that has a head at one end and the back end at the other, as well as a symmetrical right and left side, Live Science explains.
Prior to this discovery, it was suspected that animals with legs first appeared during this period, but no evidence had ever been found.
Still, this discovery means that paleontologists will have to revise their vision of how life developed in Earth's primordial oceans.
It was a commonly held belief in scientific circles that animals with limbs and jointed appendages did not appear and diversify till the Cambrian Explosion that took place around 541 to 510 million years ago.
He added: "At least three living groups of animals have paired appendages (represented by arthropods, such as bumblebees; annelids, such as bristle worms; and tetrapods, such as humans). Also, they are organised in repeated groups, as expected if the animal had multiple paired appendages".
Near the ancient footprints, the team found fossilized burrows, which suggests that the animal might have been periodically tunneling into sediments and microbial mats, either in search of food or perhaps to mine for oxygen.
"Although the exact identity of the trace maker of the Shibantan trackways is hard to determine in the absence of body remains at the end of the trackways, we suggest that the trace maker was probably a bilaterian animal with paired appendages", the authors reported.
As modern arthropods and annelids served as appropriate analogs for the interpretation of this fossil, the researchers posit the animal in question could be the ancestor of either of the two groups. It is possible that such remains were never preserved.