Strange rocks made by earliest known lifeforms
Thursday 08 June 2006
Strange rock formations in Australia were produced by the earliest known lifeforms which lived 3,430 million years ago, scientists have said.
The formations are known as stromatolites and the latest study, published in Nature, has found convincing evidence that they were produced by marine microbes - perhaps the first living organisms on earth.
Scientists studied rock outcrops more than 6 miles in length in Pilbara Craton, Western Australia, covering a time period in prehistory of about 80 million years, according to Abigail Allwood of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney.
"This has shed light on the conditions that nurtured very early life, and we can use that to predict where life might have emerged on other planets," Ms Allwood said. "Our next big question is about the nature of the micro-organisms that produced these structures.
"We believe that many types of organisms may have coexisted at this time, so that we have not just some of the oldest evidence of life, but we also have the oldest evidence of biodiversity"
Arthur Hickman of the Geological Survey in Western Australia said: "Whether or not these strange formations were created by the first known microbes on Earth or purely by geological or chemical processes has been a subject of ongoing controversy."
The study is strong evidence that the formations are indeed fossilised lifeforms that may have generated the atmospheric oxygen that was subsequently used by other living organisms.
"The microbes that created the Pilbara stromatolites probably produced oxygen and thus are likely to have added to the content of the atmosphere as much as 3.5 billion years ago," Dr Hickman said.
auctionThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Scientist create 'robotic sperm' to help with fertilisation and drug delivery
Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior C# ASP.NET Deve...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: QA Automation Tester FX Trading Platform(Ruby, ...
£25000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: VB.NET SQL Developer/...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA ...