Scottish rocks reveal key point in evolution occurred 400 million years earlier

Nov 10, 2010
Field site at Stoer Bay, near Lochinver, Sutherlandshire

Evidence found in Scottish rocks has revealed that a critical point in evolution took place 1.2 billion years ago -- several hundred million years earlier than scientists had previously understood.

The findings -- published today in Nature -- could lead to new understandings of when complex life — from which humans eventually emerged - evolved on Earth.

Until now scientists had believed an important shift in the levels of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere took place 800 million years ago.

This increase in oxygen marked the beginning of a move from simple organisms - which had inhabited the planet until this time - to the development of complex multi-cellular organisms which eventually led to life on Earth as we know it.

Chemical signatures of bacteria found in ancient rocks near Lochinver in the north-west Highlands of Scotland, has provided evidence that this key event in evolution actually took place some 400 million years earlier.

Professor in Geology at the University of Aberdeen, John Parnell led the study in collaboration with colleagues from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre in Glasgow.

Field site at Stoer Bay, near Lochinver, Sutherlandshire

He said: “Our findings, which shift this key point in the evolution of life on Earth to a much earlier date than previously proven, will give impetus to further investigations into the timescale of the development of complex life, which followed this event.

“Our analysis of the chemical composition of rocks near Lochinver showed evidence that an important group of bacteria had existed within these rocks some 1.2 billion years ago.

“At this point in time the rocks would have been located at the bottom of a lake bed.

“Investigations revealed that these bacteria — which, on a basic level, use sulphur to obtain energy — were also using oxygen in a much more complex and efficient chemical reaction in order to generate their energy and survive.

“Evidence of this chemical reaction tells us that the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere were at this key point for evolution, at this much earlier stage in Earth’s history.”

Dr Adrian Boyce who runs a UK national analytical facility at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre said: “Our geochemical analyses have provided a clear signal that levels of oxygen in the atmosphere had increased to levels critical to the evolution of complex life - from which we ourselves emerge — much earlier than has been previously proven to date.

“This opens the door to a new understanding of the evolution of our planet’s atmosphere and the life it sustains.”

Professor Parnell added: “More in depth research would now need to be conducted in order to assess any potential knock- on effect our findings have for the timescale of the next stages of , where life began to develop in more complex forms.”

Explore further: TRMM satellite sees Tropical Storm Phanfone fragmented

More information: J Parnell et al, Nature, 2010, DOI: 10.1038/nature09538

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User comments : 18

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thematrix606
1 / 5 (4) Nov 17, 2010
Ah, the religion of evolution, first get the theory, then try to find the evidence!
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 17, 2010
Ah, the religion of evolution, first get the theory, then try to find the evidence!

Ah, the commentary of idiots unaware of scientific underpinning.

When adjusting a theory, you need to have more than a few data points from a single continent.
thematrix606
1 / 5 (3) Nov 18, 2010
Ah, the religion of evolution, first get the theory, then try to find the evidence!

Ah, the commentary of idiots unaware of scientific underpinning.

When adjusting a theory, you need to have more than a few data points from a single continent.


Yes, because calling people idiots is so scientific. A thousand years ago you would have been a perfect candidate to perform the crusades!

Now tell me, how much evidence do we have of evolution, please enlighten me. Scientific evidence! Not what Dawkins or Darwin write in a book based on some basic observations looking at birds.
frajo
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2010
Now tell me, how much evidence do we have of evolution, please enlighten me.
Who is "we"?
If you don't see any evidence, why should I care?
Otoh, why are you reading and writing here? Why do you care about what other people think?
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2010
Yes, because calling people idiots is so scientific. A thousand years ago you would have been a perfect candidate to perform the crusades!
So because you say dumb things and I tell you that you're saying dumb things I'd be a great Christian Crusading knioght ready to rape and pillage for the church? Grow up.
Now tell me, how much evidence do we have of evolution, please enlighten me. Scientific evidence! Not what Dawkins or Darwin write in a book based on some basic observations looking at birds.
Start with the fields of genetics and biology. Once you're done with those, come back and I'll give you the rest.
Ethelred
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2010
Ah, the religion of evolution, first get the theory, then try to find the evidence!
The fairy stories people tell to support their beliefs. Both Darwin and Dawkins base their thinking on actual evidence. Megatons of it.

So out of curiosity what is it YOU believe in so deeply that you are will to make up fairy stories?

Are you a ID type or a full on fundamentalist?

Will you answer the question? It has become extremely rare for those with religious problems with Evolution to be honest in discussing science. I am hoping that you are capable of an actual honest discussion. Unlike nearly every other person here claiming there is no evidence for Evolution.

They just make ludicrous posts and then run off. Apparently they nothing to support their statements or their religion.

No guts no glory. If you really believe you should be able to discuss this. After all you have been here for a long time. Isn't about time you discussed something instead of making single posts.

Ethelred
Ethelred
3 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2010
Interesting response so you would rather be chicken and give me a one instead of discussing things. I gave you a one for claiming there was no evidence which nonsense. All physical evidence supports them.

Typical, you are just going on belief and have no desire to learn or support yourself. Which is evidence that even you know that there is no way to support yourself.

So since you know you have nothing to stand on, except that was written long ago by men that knew nothing of science, why DO you believe what you believe?

Do you believe in the Great Flood?
If so, when did you think it occurred?
The Bible says the world is a disc do you agree with that?
Order of Creation in Genesis, both chapters, does not match the physical evidence, how do you reconcile this in your mind?
How do reconcile the two different orders in Genesis 1 and 2?

Or is that one post every now and then is the most you can do? If so why bother reading and ranking stuff you don't have time to comment on?

Ethelred
thematrix606
1 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2010
1. Just to start: I neither believe in Evolutionism or Creationism. I'm not religious. I keep an open mind and shame on every person for being so judgmental.

2. I think both theories are for the most part, just guessing, and a lot magical thinking. Not saying that they are both entirely wrong! (there is always some truth!)

3. Most people do not even know what they are defending, 6 types of popular evolution, starting from the begging of time:
- Cosmic (big bang - a few decades ago the start was believed to have been 200 thousand light years across, now shrunk down to a singularity, magic!)
- Chemical (elements, we started with a few basics, now we have our periodic table)
- Stellar (planets - this one is a tricky, as we have never seen one form, but we are getting closer, here is hope for JWST!)
- Organic (from dirt came us, the soup theory)
- Micro evolution (mutation/variation - proven)
- Macro evolution (change of species)
thematrix606
1 / 5 (3) Nov 18, 2010
Ran out of space, continued.

Now 5 of those 6 evolution theories have NOT been proven. That is a fact.

And I must say, rather then defending a side ( as people do in politics, which only leads to negativity ) we must, as a (semi ^_^)intelligent species, admit and never forget that we are only in the beginning of our process of understanding the universe and the world around us.

We must accept the fact that at this point we are still guessing. And we must accept the even scarier fact that we might never, in this current state, find evidence for the big bang or the beginning of our universe.

We should not fear that we say we simply do not know, and the best GUESS is that there was a big bang.

Now if you would like to continue this debate, I would love to! We can start with Darwin, and follow history to this current moment and debate every finding! But please stray away from personal attacks, as that is just...silly for anyone who dares think of themselves a scientist or philosopher.
thematrix606
1 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2010
And another interesting social experiment I have observed, I have, with the same intensity scrutinized religion. And it is always enjoyable, for me, to see how people react in the exact same on both sides.

They both have books that stand by them, and both sides are very capable of remembering what was written, and believing that they spent enough time thinking on their own to say that their side makes sense.

Just as religion uses circular reasoning ( God exists, because it is written in the bible, and the bible is truth because God says so ) so does science - this bone is X years old because it was found in this layer of earth, and this layer of earth is X years old because of the bone found in it!

P.s. English as a second language, excuse grammar/spelling :)
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
Part one of five or six depending on the break points
2. I think both theories are for the most part, just guessing, and a lot magical thinking. Not saying that they are both entirely wrong! (there is always some truth!)
No there isn't always some truth. For instance Celestial Spheres was just plain wrong. There is no truth in Fundamentalist Creationism. There is nothing supporting even as nebulous a claim as Intelligent Design.
3. Most people do not even know what they are defending,
I do, though defending isn't what I am doing. I am explaining how it works.
- Cosmic (big bang -
Not evolution and making a claim that it is tends to look like a Creationist ploy. Either that or you simply don't know what Evolution is.
200 thousand light years across, now shrunk down to a singularity, magic!)
The magic is all yours. The Big Bang, named by Sir Dr. Hoyle who never accepted it, STARTS with a singularity and always has.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
Party of the second part
- Chemical (elements, we started with a few basics, now we have our periodic table)
Nobel prize work that was. The way elements can be created from lower mass elements is both mathematically valid it is supported by experiment and observation. We DO make new elements. The way suns make them is now well understood. Much of the work was done the same guy I mentioned above, Sir Dr. Hoyle. He should have got a Nobel for that work.
Stellar (planets - this one is a tricky
Not as well understood as stars. But not part of Evolutionary theory either.
Organic (from dirt came us, the soup theory)
Not yet know how this happened and guess what? It is relevant to whether life evolves. Usually it is Creationists make the claim that is evolution.
- Micro evolution (mutation/variation - proven)
- Macro evolution (change of species)
Both proved to point that evolution as standard a theory as General Relativity.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
Bullmoose party. TR's third party.
Now 5 of those 6 evolution theories have NOT been proven. That is a fact.
No. Only the last two are evolution and both have been proved. In fossils for second and in labs for the first.
admit and never forget that we are only in the beginning of our process of understanding the universe and the world around us
That we don't know everything does not mean that we know nothing. That we can't dot the Is doesn't mean a god did it.
And we must accept the even scarier fact that we might never, in this current state, find evidence for the big bang or the beginning of our universe.
Why do you say that since we HAVE evidence? Hoyle squirmed for decades trying to make it go away. He failed.

Perhaps you are just aware of the evidence.
and the best GUESS is that there was a big bang.
At present it fits the known data, which is what makes it theory and not a guess. LOTS of data from multiple sources and different ways of thinking.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2010
Party ON Dude 4
Now 5 of those 6 evolution theories have NOT been proven. That is a fact.
No it isn't fact. Only the last two are evolution and both have been proved quite thoroughly. In fossils for second and in labs for the first.
admit and never forget that we are only in the beginning of our process of understanding the universe and the world around us
That we don't know everything does not mean that we know nothing. That we can't dot the ALL the I's doesn't mean a god did it.
And we must accept the even scarier fact that we might never, in this current state, find evidence for the big bang or the beginning of our universe.
Why do you say that since we HAVE evidence? Hoyle squirmed for decades trying to make it go away. He failed.

Perhaps you are just unaware of the evidence.
and the best GUESS is that there was a big bang.
At present it fits the known data. LOTS of data from multiple sources and different ways of thinking. That is not just a guess.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
The fifth column and TWO more at least
We can start with Darwin, and follow history to this current moment and debate every finding!
Now that IS about evolution. Learn the difference between Cosmology and Evolution.
But please stray away from personal attacks, as that is just...silly
Don't make things up like acting as if Cosmology or abiogenesis is Evolution and I won't need to point out that sort nonsense comes from Creationists. Sometimes from Old Earth Creationists but mostly from Young Earth Creationists.
And it is always enjoyable, for me, to see how people react in the exact same on both sides.
Some people are irrational in all things. However some people see things that don't exist. Like both sides acting the same.
They both have books that stand by them
Some people have books based on actual evidence and reason. Some people have books written long ago and simply don't fit the evidence we have available these days.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
Part six
Just as religion uses circular reasoning ( God exists, because it is written in the bible, and the bible is truth because God says so )
Yep that is circular.
so does science - this bone is X years old because it was found in this layer of earth, and this layer of earth is X years old because of the bone found in it!
That is imaginary. We CAN use fossils that have a known age that are in the same layer AND site to guess at the age of other fossils in site that not yet been dated. This is not ideal and there are other ways.

For instance the famous fossil Lucy was dated by:
Pig fossils that have a well established date from other sites.
Potassium-argon dating
Of a layer above Lucy
Of a layer below Lucy
Multiple samples were taken of both layers. Lucy dating is quite well established and NO circular was used. There isn't enough of Lucy to test it directly without serious damage. C14 requires less material but Lucy is way too old for that.

Last one coming
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
LAST CALL

False claims of circular reasoning is the mark of a stealth creationist. Or someone that learned all they know on the subject from Creationists.

P.s. English as a second language, excuse grammar/spelling :)


No problem. I use a spell check and my grammar is intentionally creative.

I recommend Notepad++ with the spell check plugin.

http://notepad-plus-plus.org/

Usually it's Americans that claim Evolution is a guess at best. Has to do with people not learning ANYTHING about it except from their religion and a lot of Americans are fundamentalist. Twenty-five percent are. Another 25 per cent seem to never notice that geology doesn't even support the Flood. Many people look at me like I am crazy when I point out that the Flood simply didn't happen. They watch shows on dinosaurs and then they just completely fail to connect the dots. Kind of like thinking evolution is just a guess.

Ethelred
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 19, 2010
So you're so ignorant of the field as to confuse the use of the word evolution with the Theory of Evolution, which deals only with organic life.

Macro/micro evolution are the same thing, both are proved beyond question. Further the micro/macro delineation is a false delineation brought on by creationist propaganda.

Before you start spewing silly shit, you may want to actually read up on what you're talking about.