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History of Life

A very brief survey of major events in the history of life on earth
by

Jesse Brunner

on 26 April 2010

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Transcript of History of Life

Sedimentary rock, from Isua, Greenland, 3.7 billion years old showing chemical signature of life Graphite particles contain ratios of carbon isotopes that suggest they are derived from living cells. From Rosing (1999) microscopic fossils in 3.26 billion-year old rocks from South Africa A spiny fossil from the Doushantuo Formation, China. This 590-million-year-old fossil represents either the preserved cell wall of a single-celled eukaryote, the reproductive cyst of a multicellular alga, or the egg case of an early animal. A structurally complex fossil from the Miroyedicha Formation, Siberia. This 850- to 950- million-year-old fossil is clearly eukaryotic Fossil cell from the Roper Group, Australia. This cell is 1.4 to 1.5 billion years old; it probably represents a eukaryote, but it lacks sufficient complexity for a definitive identification. 2-billion-year-old fossils from Michigan that paleontologists believe represent eukaryotic algae. Stromatolites (petrified accretions of microbial biofilms) are common in the pre-cambrian eras. The earliest stromatolite of confirmed microbial origin dates to 2.724 billion years ago, but they are more common later. This one is about one billion years old in the Siyeh rock formation of Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. Modern stromatolites in Shark Bay, Western Australia Grypania is a 2.1 billion year old tube-shaped fossil over one centimeter in length and consistent in form & is therefore thought to be a eukaryotic alga. Latest common ancestors between the ciliate and chordate lineages diverged around 1 billion years ago Sex has evolved by ~1.2 billion years ago. Microfossils of the multicellular filamentous red alga, Bangiomorpha pubescens (the first taxonomically resolved eukaryote) show differential spore/gamete formation. Ediacaran (635-542 Million years ago) biota is characterized by tubular and frond-shaped sessile (stationary) organisms. These are the first widely dispersed complex multicellular organisms. Their phylogenetic relationships to extant lineages are enigmatic at best. Dickinsonia costata Tateana inflata (= 'Cyclomedusa' radiata) is the attachment disk of an unknown organism. A cast of the quilted Charnia, the first accepted complex Precambrian organism. These "frondlets" belong to animals of uncertain identity that are generally referred to as Rangea. Scale bar is 0.25 cm. Representative Ediacaran fossils Spriggina, a possible precursor to the trilobites The Burgess Shale and Chengjiang faunas are dominated by large, bilaterally symmetric animals with well-developed segmentation, heads, and appendages. Haikouichthys ercaicunensis lived 530 million years ago. Possibly an early fish Fossil specimen of Opabinia regalis from the Burgess shale Anomalocaris ("abnormal shrimp") is an extinct genus of anomalocaridid, which are, in turn, thought to be closely related to the arthropods. Wiwaxia is a genus of soft-bodied, scale-covered animals And of course, Trilobites Whole communities were preserved Burgess Shale fossils and the Cambrian Explosion The Cambrian explosion (~530 million years ago) was the relatively rapid (tens of millions of years) appearance of most major groups of complex animals and body plans. Also saw the diversification of phytoplankton and calcimicrobes. The rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude. Cooksonia pertoni is the earliest known land plant living 425 million years ago. It is a tiny plant with a simple structure (no roots or leaves). Credit: Hans Steur, Ellecom, The Netherlands

Eoraptor, one of the world's earliest dinosaurs, lived around 228 million years ago. It was a two-legged carnivorous theropod. Labyrinthodont amphibian skull. 240 million years ago Hadrocodium wui, first mammal features. 195 million years ago Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event (K-T extinction) - 65 Ma ago at the Cretaceous-Paleogene transition. About 17% of all families, 50% of all genera and 75% of species went extinct Triassic–Jurassic extinction event - 205 Ma at the Triassic-Jurassic transition. About 23% of all families and 48% of all genera (20% of marine families and 55% of marine genera) went extinct. Permian–Triassic extinction event - 251 Ma at the Permian-Triassic transition. Earth's largest extinction killed 57% of all families and 83% of all genera (53% of marine families, 84% of marine genera, about 96% of all marine species and an estimated 70% of land species) including vertebrates, insects and plants. Late Devonian extinction 360-375 Ma near the Devonian-Carboniferous transition. At the end of the Frasnian Age in the later part(s) of the Devonian Period, a prolonged series of extinctions eliminated about 19% of all families, 50% of all genera and 70% of all species. Ordovician–Silurian extinction event 440-450 Ma at the Ordovician-Silurian transition. Two events occurred that killed off 27% of all families and 57% of all genera Sources: Evolutionary Analysis by Freeman and Herron
Wikipedia, and various other places online A brief tour of the history of life on earth
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