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Theory on origin of animals challenged: Animals needs only extremely little oxygen
Date:2/17/2014

closely resemble the first animals on Earth are sea sponges. The species Halichondria panicea lives only a few meters from the University of Southern Denmark's Marine Biological Research Centre in Kerteminde, and it was here that Daniel Mills fished out individuals for his research.

"When we placed the sponges in our lab, they continued to breathe and grow even when the oxygen levels reached 0.5 per cent of present day atmospheric levels", says Daniel Mills.

This is lower than the oxygen levels we thought were necessary for animal life.

The big question now is: If low oxygen levels did not prevent animals from evolving then what did? Why did life consist of only primitive single-celled bacteria and amoebae for billions of years before everything suddenly exploded and complex life arose?

"There must have been other ecological and evolutionary mechanisms at play. Maybe life remained microbial for so long because it took a while to develop the biological machinery required to construct an animal. Perhaps the ancient Earth lacked animals because complex, many-celled bodies are simply hard to evolve", says Daniel Mills.

His colleagues from the Nordic Center for Earth Evolution have previously shown that oxygen levels have actually risen dramatically at least one time before complex life evolved. Although plenty of oxygen thus became available it did not lead to the development of complex life. Read more about this work here: http://sdu.dk/en/Om_SDU/Fakulteterne/Naturvidenskab/Nyheder_2013/2013_10_16_oxygenfossil.


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Contact: Birgitte Svennevig
birs@sdu.dk
University of Southern Denmark
Source:Eurekalert  

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