Navigation Links
Ancient oceans offer new insight into the origins of animal life

Analysis of a rock type found only in the world's oldest oceans has shed new light on how large animals first got a foothold on the Earth.

A scientific team led by Professor Robert Frei at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and including scientists from Newcastle University, UK, and universities in Uruguay and Southern Denmark, have for the first time managed to plot the rise and fall of oxygen levels in the Earth's atmosphere over the last 3.8 billion years.

By analysing the isotopes of chromium in iron-rich sediments formed in the ancient oceans, the team has found that a rise in atmospheric oxygen levels 580 million years ago was closely followed by the evolution of animal life.

Published today in the academic journal Nature, the data offers new insight into how animal life and ultimately humans first came to roam the planet.

"Because animals evolved in the sea, most previous research has focussed on oceanic oxygen levels," explains Newcastle University's Dr Simon Poulton, one of the authors of the paper.

"Our research confirms for the first time that a rise in atmospheric oxygen was the driving force for oxygenation of the oceans 580 million years ago, and that this was the catalyst for the evolution of large complex animals."

The study

Distinctive chromium isotope signals occur when continental rocks are altered and weathered as a result of oxygen levels rising in the atmosphere.

The chromium released by this weathering is then washed into the seas and deposited in the deepest oceans - trapped in iron-rich rocks on the sea bed.

Using this new data, the research team has not only been able to establish the trigger for the evolution of animals, but have also demonstrated that oxygen began to pulse into the atmosphere earlier than previously thought.

"Oxygen levels actually began to rise 2.8 billion years ago" explains Dr Poulton.

"But instead of this rise being steady and gradual over time, what we saw in our data was a very unstable situation with short-lived episodes of free oxygen in the atmosphere early in Earth's history, followed by plummeting levels around 2 billion years ago.

"It was not until a second rise in atmospheric oxygen 580 million years ago that larger complex animals were able to get a foothold on the Earth."


Contact: Dr. Simon Poulton
Newcastle University

Related biology news :

1. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
2. CU-Boulder team discovers first ancient manioc fields in Americas
3. Ancient organisms discovered in Canadian gold mine
4. Amber specimen captures ancient chemical battle
5. Ancient whale fall from Californias Año Nuevo Island one of youngest, most complete known
6. Ancient whale fall from Californias Ao Nuevo Island one of youngest, most complete known
7. 454 Sequencing: Science paper describes a novel, highly efficient method of sequencing ancient DNA
8. Newfound ancient African megadroughts may have driven the evolution of humans and fishes
9. Ancient amphibians left full-body imprints
10. Scientists melt million-year-old ice in search of ancient microbes
11. Ancient fish bones reveal impacts of global warming beneath the sea
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung SDS, ... partnership that will provide end customers with a more ... payment services.      (Logo: ) ... financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part in ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... , UAE, April 20, 2016 ... be implemented as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution ... the biometric fingerprint reader or the door interface with ... of modern access control systems. The minimal dimensions of ... ID readers into the building installations offer considerable freedom ...
(Date:4/13/2016)...  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... standard in telehealth thanks to a new partnership with ... IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health measurements, such ... and, when they opt in, share them with IMPOWER ... local retail location at no cost. By leveraging this ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young Investigator (YI) ... of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of 128 applicants ... the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today announced that Dr. Hays ... DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am thrilled that Dr. Young ... DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, Hays brings a wealth ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Andrew ... Published recently in ... journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , ... cancer care is placing an increasing burden on ... biologic therapies. With the patents on many biologics ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... line of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC machining ... Chicago. The result of a collaboration among several companies with expertise in toolholding, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: