Professor J. William Schopf from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his colleagues analyzed 11 specimens of 5 species of prokaryotic cellular microfossils from the Apex Basalt Formation, Pilbara Craton, Western Australia.
Two of the five species the researchers studied were primitive photosynthesizers, one was an Archaeal methane producer, and two others were methane consumers.
“The evidence that a diverse group of organisms had already evolved extremely early in the Earth’s history strengthens the case for life existing elsewhere in the Universe because it would be extremely unlikely that life formed quickly on Earth but did not arise anywhere else,” they said.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the most detailed ever conducted on microorganisms preserved in such ancient fossils.
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