Complex Life Was Present On Earth 2.33 Billion Years Ago

Posted: Mar 7 2017, 7:21am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Complex Life was Present on Earth 2.33 Billion Years Ago
MIT earth scientists have found evidence that eukaryotes — the domain of life comprising animals, plants, and protists — were present on Earth as early as 2.33 billion years ago, right around the time when oxygen became a permanent fixture in the atmosphere. Credit: MIT

New research reveals existence of complex life on earth 2.33 billion years ago

Scientists studied the genetics of modern organisms, and found complex life on earth billions of years before. The research findings were published in the journal Nature by MIT scientists.

The study shows that eukaryotes, the domains with plants, animals, and protests existed on earth 2.33 billion years before when oxygen became permanently available on earth.

The research shows the early signs of eukaryotes found in fossils around 1.56 billion year old which remains of algae like organisms are. The MIT scientists discovered the evidence through a technique named“molecular clock analysis”

This is the first time that scientists detected a specific gene through DNA database. After detecting the ages of animals and plants, scientists can link the evidences to the earliest time when it formed in ancestral eukaryotes.

The evidences are not solid, as scientists observed fossil microbes which are sometimes disputed. But, by looking at today’s organism, scientists can tell their ancient history, explained Roger Summons, professor of geobiology in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).

Different scientists analyzed the microbes,including Summons and lead author David Gold, a former MIT postdoc from Caltech, along with Abigail Caron, a senior research support associate at MIT, and Gregory Fournier, the Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Assistant Professor in EAPS.

The team studied DNA sequences through enzymes, like SQMO and OSC for tracing genetic evolution. SQMO puts oxygen atom into squalene, and OSC folds the squalene to make sterol like cholesterol.

Scientists believe that by studying enzymes’ evolution through sterol they could find the evolution of earliest eukaryotes on earth.The research team plans to detect the enzymes’ evolutionary history beyond the sterol, especially those in cholesterol. The team will detect it by using advanced genetic sequences.

Different foundations supported the research, including the Simons Foundation, the Agouron Institute, and the National Science Foundation.

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