About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

1,900 Mln Yrs Ago, Earth Might Have Smelled Like Rotten Eggs

by Bidita Debnath on May 3, 2013 at 4:43 PM
Font : A-A+

 1,900 Mln Yrs Ago, Earth Might Have Smelled Like Rotten Eggs

From rocks around Lake Superior, Canada, tiny 1,900 million-year-old fossils has given the first ever snapshot of organisms eating each other and suggest what the ancient Earth would have smelled like.

The fossils, preserved in Gunflint chert, capture ancient microbes in the act of feasting on a cyanobacterium-like fossil called Gunflintia - with the perforated sheaths of Gunflintia being the discarded leftovers of this early meal.

Advertisement

A team, led by Dr David Wacey of the University of Western Australia and Bergen University, Norway, and Professor Martin Brasier of Oxford University, reports how this type of feeding on organic matter - called 'heterotrophy' - was taking place.

They also show that the ancient microbes appeared to prefer to snack on Gunflintia as a 'tasty morsel' in preference to another bacterium (Huroniospora).
Advertisement

"What we call 'heterotrophy' is the same thing we do after dinner as the bacteria in our gut break down organic matter," Professor Brasier of Oxford University's Department of Earth Sciences, an author of the paper said.

"Whilst there is chemical evidence suggesting that this mode of feeding dates back 3,500 million years, in this study for the first time we identify how it was happening and 'who was eating who'."

"In fact we've all experienced modern bacteria feeding in this way as that's where that 'rotten egg' whiff of hydrogen sulfide comes from in a blocked drain. So, rather surprisingly, we can say that life on earth 1,900 million years ago would have smelled a lot like rotten eggs," he said.

The team analysed the microscopic fossils, ranging from about 3-15 microns in diameter, using a battery of new techniques and found that one species - a tubular form thought to be the outer sheath of Gunflintia - was more perforated after death than other kinds, consistent with them having been eaten by bacteria.

In some places many of the tiny fossils had been partially or entirely replaced with iron sulfide ('fool's gold') a waste product of heterotrophic sulfate-reducing bacteria that is also a highly visible marker.

The team also found that these Gunflintia fossils carried clusters of even smaller (c.1 micron) spherical and rod-shaped bacteria that were seemingly in the process of consuming their hosts.

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: ANI
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Advertisement
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Top 7 Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene
Healthy and Safer Thanksgiving 2021
Long-Term Glycemic Control - A Better Measure of COVID-19 Severity
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.


Recommended Reading
Fossils That Uncover Origins of Antarctic Ecosystem Identified
Organic fossil remains that uncover origins of Antarctic ecosystems has been identified by ......
Fresh Insights Into Ties Between Native-Americans and Diabetes From Faeces Fossils
High rates of diabetes experienced by Native Americans is observed. A general theory is that they .....
Songbird Fossils Reveal That Hepatitis B Virus may be Over 19-mn-year-old
Biologists at The University of Texas at Arlington were able to locate fragments of the modern ......
Fish Fossils can Shed New Light on Humans Earliest Ancestry
The discovery that studying rotting fish can shed new light on our earliest ancestry, has been made ...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use