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Two-Billion-Year-Old Fossils Reveal Strange and Puzzling Forms

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  • Two-Billion-Year-Old Fossils Reveal Strange and Puzzling Forms

    Source: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/2015/01/29/two-billion-year-old-fossils-reveal-strange-and-puzzling-forms/



    Two-Billion-Year-Old Fossils Reveal Strange and Puzzling Forms


    To a human, two billion years is an unfathomable interval. But that, a team of European, Gabonese, and American scientists now say, is how long ago a recently discovered hoard of fossils suggests Earth’s first big life evolved — large enough to see with the naked eye, and in a spectrum of forms that tease and bewilder. What do their shapes mean? Would the life that existed on 2-billion-year-old Earth have given us any clues to the Earth we see today? Just what were these things?

    To put the unexpectedness of this fossil cache in perspective, consider that Earth condensed out of the planet-forming gas disk that shrouded our young sun about 4.5 billion years ago. Life evolved surprisingly swiftly after Earth’s birth, probably by 3.5 billion years ago and perhaps more than 4 billion years ago. But the ancestors of the large life forms we see today did not appear until the Cambrian Explosion, about 550 million years ago, and the first large life, the Ediacaran Biota, appeared just 50 million years before that, ca. 600 million years ago (relatively simple but macroscopic branching algae may, however, have evolved as early as 700-800 million years ago).

    These new fossils nearly split the difference and represent a mind-boggling 1.5 billion year leap back in time. They appear to have been a surprising punctuation mark in an otherwise monotonous microbial interlude. Of course, the fossil record being as fragmentary as it is, this is not to say it was the only one. Just the only one we know about so far.

    Take a look for yourself and see if you can imagine what the creatures that left these remains behind would have looked like while alive. And remember: these fossils are over 2 BILLION years old.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  • #2
    Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
    Source: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/2015/01/29/two-billion-year-old-fossils-reveal-strange-and-puzzling-forms/



    Two-Billion-Year-Old Fossils Reveal Strange and Puzzling Forms


    To a human, two billion years is an unfathomable interval. But that, a team of European, Gabonese, and American scientists now say, is how long ago a recently discovered hoard of fossils suggests Earth’s first big life evolved — large enough to see with the naked eye, and in a spectrum of forms that tease and bewilder. What do their shapes mean? Would the life that existed on 2-billion-year-old Earth have given us any clues to the Earth we see today? Just what were these things?

    To put the unexpectedness of this fossil cache in perspective, consider that Earth condensed out of the planet-forming gas disk that shrouded our young sun about 4.5 billion years ago. Life evolved surprisingly swiftly after Earth’s birth, probably by 3.5 billion years ago and perhaps more than 4 billion years ago. But the ancestors of the large life forms we see today did not appear until the Cambrian Explosion, about 550 million years ago, and the first large life, the Ediacaran Biota, appeared just 50 million years before that, ca. 600 million years ago (relatively simple but macroscopic branching algae may, however, have evolved as early as 700-800 million years ago).

    These new fossils nearly split the difference and represent a mind-boggling 1.5 billion year leap back in time. They appear to have been a surprising punctuation mark in an otherwise monotonous microbial interlude. Of course, the fossil record being as fragmentary as it is, this is not to say it was the only one. Just the only one we know about so far.

    Take a look for yourself and see if you can imagine what the creatures that left these remains behind would have looked like while alive. And remember: these fossils are over 2 BILLION years old.

    © Copyright Original Source

    It's going to be fascinating to see where this leads.

    Comment


    • #3
      I find the geometry of life in this discovery fascinating. The most important point of this and some other discoveries in these ancient rocks around the world is that there is growing evidence that live may have begun more then one time and failed for one reason or another, before it took hold and evolved to the life forms that became the diverse species today.
      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

      go with the flow the river knows . . .

      Frank

      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

      Comment

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