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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

1.6 Billion Years Old breath discovered from India

1.6 million years of old bacteria was found from the pockmarks in rock found from central India. A research that published in the journal Geobiology identified most of the microbes are cyanobacteria. These ancient one of the oldest bacteria identified till now are capable to synthesize photosynthesis like modern plants using sunlight as energy and giving out oxygen as byproduct. This cyanobacteria are the earliest life forms paving away 2.4 billion of years ago started to supply oxygen to earth.

Fossilized bubbles formed by cyanobacteria on 1.6 billion years old fossilized mat obtained from Vindhyan Supergroup, central India. Credit: Stefan Bengtson. (Source PhysOrg)
Cyanobacterial excreted materials harden into several layers to form stromatolites. These stromatolites are found in very few places now. Therese Sallstedt, a biologist from Swedish Museum of Natural History with her colleagues has studied these rocks from Vindhyan Supergroup which might contain oldest fossils on earth.

In rock layers scientists found tiny spherical voids which was not ever found before. Researchers in their paper mentioned that in fossil microbial mats that thrive now are in hydrothermal water.

The bubbles are as small as 50 to 500microns which for comparison human hair is just 50micron in diameter. Some of the spheres were found to be squished which signify that they were once compressed before they formed rock. It is important to note that researchers also found filament structures which are probable remains of cyanobacteria.

The mats were once filled with oxygen as was produced by old cyanobacteria. The stromatolites contain higher concentration of calcium phosphate called phosphorites. Hence the discovery of oxygen bubbles within these phosphorites produced by cyanobacteria is a major discovery of early life.

Journal Source:

Sallstedt T, Bengtson S, Broman C, Crill P, Canfield D. Evidence of oxygenic phototrophy in ancient phosphatic stromatolites from the Paleoproterozoic Vindhyan and Aravalli Supergroups, India. Geobiology. 2018;16(2):139-159.
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