Ancient Microbial Metabolism Research Revealed That Life on Earth Thrived 3.5 Billion Years Ago

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The science already explained that about 3.5 billion years ago there was life on Earth, but nobody knew exactly how it was like and how many living things were on Earth in that period. Now, thanks to ancient microbial metabolism research, the scientists revealed that life on Earth thrived 3.5 billion years ago.

In their new study, a team of scientists, headed by researchers from the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) of Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), studied sulfur isotopes which are known to record ancient microbial metabolism over billions of years. The purpose of the research was to establish whether life emerged on Earth once the planet formed or not. If it did, then life forms easily, so other the planets which hold life forms should be prevalent in the Universe.

Preceding dinosaurs by billions of years, the microbes have been the first life forms on Earth. In the new study, focused on ancient microbial metabolism, scientists concluded that at least 3.5 billion years ago life on Earth thrived.

Ancient Microbial Metabolism Research Revealed That Life on Earth Thrived 3.5 Billion Years Ago

“The oldest evidence of microbial life on Earth comes to us in the form of stable isotopes. The chemical elements charted on the periodic are defined by the number of protons in their nuclei, for example, hydrogen atoms have one proton, helium atoms have two, carbon atoms contain six,” reported ScienceDaily.

Every living creature on Earth, including humans, consume food and excrete the waste. Microbes, for their part, eat simple compounds from their surroundings. So, there are microbes which consume CO2, sulfur, and so on, and these microorganisms are crucial for researchers since they die and leave their signature in the fossil remains.

“This new study reveals a primary biological control step in microbial sulfur metabolism and clarifies which cellular states lead to which types of sulfur isotope fractionation,” ScienceDaily reported. The scientists concluded that, according to their ancient microbial metabolism research, life on Earth thrived 3.5 billion years ago.


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