EUGENE, Ore. — (July 22, 2013) — Conventional scientific wisdom has it that plants and other creatures have only lived on land for about 500
million years, and that landscapes of the early Earth were as barren as Mars.
A new study, led by geologist Gregory J. Retallack of the University of Oregon, now has presented evidence for life on land that is four times as old
— at 2.2 billion years ago and almost half way back to the inception of the planet.
That evidence, which is detailed in the September issue of the journal Precambrian Research, involves fossils the size of match heads and connected
into bunches by threads in the surface of an ancient soil from South Africa. They have been named Diskagma buttonii, meaning “disc-shaped fragments
of Andy Button,” but it is unsure what the fossils were, the authors say.
“They certainly were not plants or animals, but something rather more simple,” said Retallack, professor of geological sciences and co-director of
paleontological collections at the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The fossils, he added, most resemble modern soil organisms called
Geosiphon, a fungus with a central cavity filled with symbiotic cyanobacteria.
“There is independent evidence for cyanobacteria, but not fungi, of the same geological age, and these new fossils set a new and earlier benchmark
for the greening of the land,” he said. “This gains added significance because fossil soils hosting the fossils have long been taken as evidence
for a marked rise in the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere at about 2.4 billion to 2.2 billion years ago, widely called the Great Oxidation
Do not confuse life in the dirt with life in the oceans.
Also life from the oceans and oxygen production
Multicellularity as early as 2.3 billion years ago
The scientists analyzed the phylogenies of living cyanobacteria and combined their findings with data from fossil records for cyanobacteria. According
to the results recorded by Bettina Schirrmeister and her colleagues, multicellular cyanobacteria emerged much earlier than previously assumed.
"Multicellularity developed relatively early in the history of cyanobacteria, more than 2.3 billion years ago," Schirrmeister explains in her
doctoral thesis, written at the University of Zurich. END QUOTE
According to the scientists, multicellularity developed shortly before the rise in levels of free oxygen in the oceans and in the atmosphere. This
accumulation of free oxygen is referred to as the Great Oxidation Event, and is seen as the most significant climate event in Earth's history. Based
on their data, Schirrmeister and her doctoral supervisor Homayoun Bagheri believe that there is a link between the emergence of multicellularity and
the event. According to Bagheri, multicellular life forms often have a more efficient metabolism than unicellular forms. The researchers are thus
proposing the theory that the newly developed multicellularity of the cyanobacteria played a role in triggering the Great Oxidation Event.
The Oxidation event that produced oxygen made life forms adapt or perish. It was a form of bio warfare in that oxygen was a deadly poison to the
existing forms of life that had adapted to the sulfur rich environment of the young earth.
The oceans were a more stable enviornment for the beginning life forms and there have been theories and some evidence that the thermal vents might
have been the area where life got it's start due to the energy source...
If we were a Star Wars type civilization and able to explore the Galaxy we could observe life's beginnings on other worlds and most if not all our
questions could/would be answered. The way things are going unfortunately it looks like that future for mankind ain't gonna happen in the forseeable