Oldest fossils on Earth

Strelly Pool Stromatolite (Proterozoic) Strelly Pool Formation, Pilbara, Western Australia

Strelly Pool Stromatolite (Proterozoic) Strelly Pool Formation, Pilbara, Western Australia

 

Happy 2013 fellow fossil collectors! We’re so happy to be entering our 3rd year of collecting together, and we have built up a wonderful Facebook and offline friends. All readers and collectors are welcome to join in our regular gatherings, and we look forward to growing this lively community even more this year.

Our resolution this year is to really expand the interest in fossil collecting and paleontology in Singapore, and we plan to launch a program introducing fossils and paleontology to youth here over the next few months. Let us know if you have ideas or like to volunteer with us!

Speaking of life, did you catch the recent breakthrough study on the earliest fossil life ever found on Earth? At 3.5 billion years old, this bacteria was found just 3 hours away from Singapore in Western Australia. This was a time when the Earth lacked oxygen, and indeed, the bacteria likely even helped to create oxygen.

Presented at a meeting of the Geological Society of America in November 2012 by biogeochemist Nora Noffke of the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, she details the microbial communities observed from the ridges that crisscross the rocks like strands in a spider web hint that primitive bacteria linked up in sprawling networks that may have facilitated communication via chemical signals.

The Pilbara area of Western Australia where the Strelly Pool Formation is found has some of the oldest rocks in the world, and the stromatolites found there are the oldest fossils in Earth history preserved in the oldest sedimentary rock.

The stromatolites are formed by microbial mats that trap minerals and sand particles in their matrix, which fossilize into sandstone that shows discrete layered patterns of textural variation in line with the fossilized organic remnants, which “contour the stromatolites from edge to edge, following steep slopes and continuing along low areas without thickening.” Spectroscopy confirms that the organics had been ‘cooked’ to the same burial temperature as the host rock, again indicating the organics are not young contaminants.”

I’ve just received the Strelly Pool cross-sectioned stromatolite specimen above that nicely illustrates this.

The discovery of the fossils in shallow waters also puts to rest the idea that life might have started near the deep hydrothermal vents. Interestingly, the techniques used in analysing the microbe activity are also being used to determine if microbial life once existed among similar geological forms on Mars.

Just as our ancestors the microbes could have evolved in the richness of life today, let’s work to grow our collector community into a large and diverse body we can all be proud of!

~Calvin

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About chuyeeming

Just another passionate collector of fossils
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