They discovered the remains of a world of extinct organisms – DW – 06/09/2023

At least 1.6 billion years ago, microscopic organisms lived in waterways. Molecular fossils have been found in rocks from that time and could be remains Our oldest lineage.

The discovery of this microscopic “lost world”, What is published nature, It could change the understanding of our early ancestors.

All organisms with eukaryotic cells (those of animals, plants, and fungi, with DNA enclosed in a membrane) have a common ancestor known as LECA, which lived 1.2 billion years ago, but must have been preceded by other forms of eukaryotes.

Fossil witnesses of primitive life

A group of Australian, French and German researchers has discovered abundant amounts of sterols in rocks from the middle of the Proterozoic period (2.5 billion to 542 million years ago), primitive compounds hitherto unnoticed as fossil evidence of early life.

These vital signs indicate the existence of a whole group of organisms, hitherto unknown, that dominated complex life on Earth and that would have lived at least a billion years before the appearance of any animal or plant.

and Protosterol Biota

Genetically called “protosterol organisms”, these exist microscopic creatures that are part of eukaryotic organisms, were discovered by a team led by Jochen Brooks, of the Australian National University (AUN).

“The molecular remains of protosterol organisms discovered in rocks 1.6 billion years old appear to be the oldest remains of our lineage: they lived even before LECA,” Another of the signatories, Benjamin Nettersheim, noted, from the University of Bremen (Germany).

These creatures, which thrived from about 1.6 billion years ago to about 800 million years ago, were abundant in marine ecosystems around the world and likely shaped ecosystems for most of Earth’s history.

See also  NASA has discovered an asteroid that could hit Earth in 2046

Although their shape is unknown, Brooks said in a statement from his university that they would have been more complex and presumably larger than bacteria: “We think they may have been Earth’s first predators, bacteria that hunt and feed.”

They differed from complex eukaryotes as we know them (animals, plants and algae) in their cellular structure and possibly in their metabolism, which were adapted to a world with much less oxygen in the atmosphere than it does today, according to the center. Earth Science Center (GFZ).

Extinction of protosterol organisms

It is also unknown when exactly these ancient organisms became extinct, although it does point to the Tunnic period, when more advanced eukaryotes, such as fungi and algae, began to flourish.

“Just as the dinosaurs had to die out in order for our mammalian ancestors to become large and plentiful, protosterol organisms probably had to go extinct a billion years ago to make way for modern eukaryotes,” Brooks said.

Scientists find biomarkers

To make this discovery, the researchers studied fossil lipid particles, known as protosteroids, found inside a 1.6 billion-year-old sedimentary rock — the middle of the Proterozoic — that formed on the ocean floor near Australia.

The molecules have a primitive chemical structure that suggests complex primitive organisms that evolved before LECA and have since become extinct. Without these biomarkers “we would never have known that protosterol organisms existed—scientists have overlooked these molecules for four decades because they don’t fit into typical molecular research pictures,” according to Nettersheim.

But once they knew what they were looking for, they found that dozens of other rocks, drawn from billion-year-old streams around the world, “also secrete similar fossil particles.”

See also  Capcom invites you to choose the new version of Resident Evil

The 1958 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Konrad Bloch, predicted in 1994 the existence of this type of primitive molecule, so these findings prove him correct.

However, it was considered that these primitive intermediate particles would never be found because they could not survive in the geological record, although this research now indicates that this is not the case and suggests that the remains of protosteroids may persist in rocks for more than billion years.

FEW (EFE, natureStill)

Lovell Loxley

"Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top