1 billion year old freshwater life

By Razib Khan | April 27, 2011 12:10 pm

There was a reference to complex pre-Cambrian life in a book I’m reading, Kraken, and it made me double-check Wikipedia’s Cambrian explosion entry. Lacking total clarity, I decided to read a new paper which was published in Nature, Earth’s earliest non-marine eukaryotes. The Cambrian explosion is pegged to ~500 million years ago, but these data indicate a freshwater ecosystem which predates ~1 billion years before the present. Also, there was weird stuff in the discussion which startled me:

…Early eukaryotes were clearly capable of diversifying within non-marine habitats, not just in marine settings as has been generally assumed. This idea directly supports phylogenomic studies which find that the cyanobacteria evolved first in freshwater habitats and later migrated into marine settings….

Cyanobacteria are the ubiquitous blue-green algae which were’t familiar with. New Scientist has some quotes from paleontologists who seem to think that this paper is credible. There’s a good and a bad to this. The good, I’ll have to read up on this area which I’m so fuzzy about in terms of details. The bad is that it slices my finite time pie even more.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Paleontology, Uncategorized
  • http://www.phoebecohen.net/pac_sci_index.html Phoebe Cohen

    ” The Cambrian explosion is pegged to ~500 million years ago, but these data indicate a freshwater ecosystem which predates ~1 billion years before the present. ”
    The Cambrian explosion is mainly an explosion of animal life, whereas the fossils from Strother et al. are not multicellular in the way that animals, fungi, and plants are (and many of the fossils are unicellular). Well before the Cambrian, most of the major groups of eukaryotes had evolved, as evidenced from both the fossil record and molecular clock studies. Strother et al. is definitely an important and interesting find but doesn’t (in my view) have much bearing on the radiation of animal phyla in the oceans ~ 500 million years later. Happy to send you papers to read! :-)
    Phoebe

  • Pingback: Sightseeing | A Decade Under The Influence

  • Justin Giancola

    mmm time pie…

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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