Microspectroscopy could help the search for Earth’s first animals
Lauren Robertson | | Quick Read
Walk into any natural history museum and you’ll see fossils that span the last 550 million years. But what about the first four billion years of Earth’s history? Thanks to microfossils, we now know that single-cellular organisms emerged around 3.5 billion years ago. But fossils of this kind are rare – so Ross Anderson and his team from Oxford University set out to uncover the exceptional fossilization conditions that preserve them.
Currently, it is unclear whether microfossil occurrence patterns reflect evolution or simply mirror the distribution of favorable fossilization conditions – information vital to determining when animal life emerged on Earth. “We need to understand how these microfossils are formed so we can narrow our search for ancient life to appropriate rocks and counter the bias in our record of early evolution,” says Anderson.
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