Was there life on Earth over two billion years ago?
|July 23, 2013||Posted by News under Intelligent Design, Origin Of Life, News|
Not just for about one billion years? That’s the claim made by University of Oregon researchers, who have identified some elements of a very old stratum as fossils. Details:
– 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.
– “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 Event.”
The Great Oxidation Event pushed oxygen to 5% of the atmosphere, which might be enough for simple life forms (currently oxygen comprises 21% of the atmosphere).
This is most interesting news if it holds up. Remember, the earlier that life forms are found to exist, the bigger the hurdle for purely naturalistic claims about its origin, unless the researcher is arguing that life came from somewhere else in the galaxy. But then he bears the burden of providing evidence for that.
But caution: Researchers have sometimes been fooled because accidental agglomerations of chemicals can look like the fossils of simple life forms. Call it, if you like, the rat on Mars problem.