Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fossils of Complex Life Forms From Over Two Billion Years Ago Discovered

From Science Daily:

The discovery in Gabon of more than 250 fossils in an excellent state of conservation has provided proof, for the first time, of the existence of multicellular organisms 2.1 billion years ago. This finding represents a major breakthrough: until now, the first complex life forms (made up of several cells) dated from around 600 million years ago.

Until now, it has been assumed that organized multicellular life appeared around 0.6 billion years ago and that before then the Earth was mainly populated by microbes (viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc.). This new discovery moves the cursor of the origin of multicellular life back by 1.5 billion years and reveals that cells had begun to cooperate with each other to form more complex and larger structures than single-celled organisms.