Primitive organisms may be widespread throughout the cosmos. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists have identified a diverse group of organisms within fossils dating back 3.45 billion years.
In a new report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists from UCLA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have outlined the discovery of several distinct organisms from Earth's distant past, including two that performed a primitive form of photosynthesis, one that produced methane gas and another that consumed methane to help it develop.
The presence of such a diverse range of organisms so early in Earth's history suggests that it is extremely unlikely that life would not have arisen on other planets as well.
"By 3.465 billion years ago, life was already diverse on Earth; that's clear - primitive photosynthesizers, methane producers, methane users," said study lead author J. William Schopf.
"These are the first data that show the very diverse organisms at that time in Earth's history, and our previous research has shown that there were sulfur users 3.4 billion years ago as well."
"This tells us life had to have begun substantially earlier and it confirms that it was not difficult for primitive life to form and to evolve into more advanced microorganisms."
"If the conditions are right, it looks like life in the universe should be widespread."
Source: University of California | Comments (10)