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What’s the Hold-up? Stuck in Slime for a Billion Years
Scientific Computing ^ | Mon, 02/24/2014 - 4:10pm | University of Tasmania

Posted on 02/25/2014 10:11:29 AM PST by null and void


Professor Large and Professor Maslennikov on the hunt for suitable black shales in Siberia Courtesy of University of Tasmania

Tasmanian researchers have revealed ancient conditions that almost ended life on Earth, using a new technique they developed to hunt for mineral deposits.

The first life developed in the ancient oceans around 3.6 billion years ago, but then nothing much happened. Life remained as little more than a layer of slime for a billion years. Suddenly, 550 million years ago, evolution burst back into action — and here we are today. So, what was the hold-up during those ‘boring billion’ years?

According to University of Tasmania geologist Professor Ross Large and his international team, the key was a lack of oxygen and nutrient elements, which placed evolution in a precarious position. “During that billion years, oxygen levels declined and the oceans were losing the ingredients needed for life to develop into more complex organisms.”

By analyzing ancient seafloor rocks, Ross and his Australian, Russian, US and Canadian colleagues were able to show that the slowdown in evolution was tightly linked to low levels of oxygen and biologically-important elements in the oceans.

“We’ve looked at thousands of samples of the mineral pyrite in rocks that formed in the ancient oceans. And by measuring the levels of certain trace elements in the pyrite, using a technique developed in our labs, we’ve found that we can tell an accurate story about how much oxygen and nutrients were around billions of years ago.”

Their research will be published in the March 2014 issue of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

“We were initially looking at oxygen levels in the ancient oceans and atmosphere to understand how mineral deposits form, and where to look for them today. That’s a focus of the Centre for Ore Deposit and Exploration Science (CODES), which we established with ARC and industry funding at UTAS in 1989,” Ross explains. “But the technology we have developed to find minerals can also tell us much about the evolution of life.”

After an initial burst of oxygen, the study plots a long decline in oxygen levels during the ‘boring billion’ years before leaping up about 750-550 million years ago.

“We think this recovery of oxygen levels led to a significant increase in trace metals in the ocean and triggered the ‘Cambrian explosion of life’. We will be doing much more with this technology, but it’s already becoming clear that there have been many fluctuations in trace metal levels over the millennia and these may help us understand a host of events including the emergence of life, fish, plants and dinosaurs, mass extinctions, and the development of seafloor gold and other ore deposits,” says Ross.

The Centre for Ore Deposit and Exploration Science was established as an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence. The study has been funded by the Australian Research Council and is collaboration with the Russian Academy of Science, University of California, the Yukon Geological Survey, Geological Survey of Western Australia, Flinders University, Museum Victoria, and Mineral Resources Tasmania.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS:
LISTER: Where are all your other catty friends, Cat?
CAT: Good Krispies, man!
LISTER: But where are all the other little kitties? Are they gone? Are they dead? Have they left you?
RIMMER: Who cares? I want it off the ship!
LISTER: No! He's coming home with us, aren't you, Cat?
RIMMER: Home? And where exactly is home supposed to be?
LISTER: Earth.
RIMMER: Earth? What makes you think there'll be any Earth, Lister? And even if there is, look what it's done to a household pet in three million years.

CAT takes out a toothbrush and begins grooming his eyebrows.

RIMMER: Can you imagine what humankind has evolved into? To them, you'll be the equivalent of the slime that first crawled out of the oceans.
LISTER: I could smarten meself up a bit.
RIMMER: Naah. You're a dinosaur. You're extinct. You've got nothing.
LISTER: Hey, hey! I've still got me plan. And I've still got a cat. OK, it's not Frankenstein, but it's still a cat.
CAT: Did you say Frankenstein?
LISTER: Yeah. She was your great great great great great great grandmother or something.
CAT: The Holy Mother? The Virgin Birth? No one believes that stuff!
RIMMER: The Virgin Birth?!
LISTER: No, it was a big black tom on Titan.
CAT: Frankenstein, yeah! I remember that stuff from kitty school. The Holy Mother, saved by Cloister the Stupid, who was frozen in time, and who gaveth of his life that we might live.
LISTER: No! No, it's not Cloister, it's me, it's
Lister! It's *Lister* the ... stupid?!
CAT: Who shall returneth to lead us to Fushal, the Promised Land.
LISTER: No, it's not Fushal, it's Fiji! And I will! I'll lead you there. (To RIMMER) *That's* where we're going. Holly, plot a course for Fiji. Look out, Earth -- the slime's coming home!
1 posted on 02/25/2014 10:11:29 AM PST by null and void
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To: null and void
He slimed me...

2 posted on 02/25/2014 10:13:52 AM PST by DannyTN
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To: null and void

Democrats were in charge, obviously................


3 posted on 02/25/2014 10:16:43 AM PST by Red Badger (LIberal is an oxymoron......................)
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To: null and void

How is it possible serious researchers can be so stupid regarding cause and effect? I hope it’s only the reporting that is so bad.

Plants are the prevalent life forms. To them, carbon dioxide is life, and oxygen is nothing more than a dangerous waste product. When plants prosper, oxygen levels rise. Attributing an increase in life to a rise in oxygen... my brain wants to explode!


4 posted on 02/25/2014 10:24:35 AM PST by dangus
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To: null and void
Tasmanian researchers have revealed ancient conditions that almost ended life on Earth... Well, we know one thing for sure. If life on earth HAD ended, it would have been George W. Bush's fault...
5 posted on 02/25/2014 10:25:06 AM PST by WayneS (Respect the 2nd Amendment; Repeal the 16th (and 17th))
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To: WayneS
Ooops!

Tasmanian researchers have revealed ancient conditions that almost ended life on Earth...

Well, we know one thing for sure. If life on earth HAD ended, it would have been George W. Bush's fault...

6 posted on 02/25/2014 10:27:00 AM PST by WayneS (Respect the 2nd Amendment; Repeal the 16th (and 17th))
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To: null and void
"This is Hugh" - Professor Large
7 posted on 02/25/2014 10:36:40 AM PST by Red_Devil 232 ((VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!))
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To: WayneS

from what I have read, the build up of green sludge and algae or that type of plant life in the oceans, and then dying, due to the over-all loss of oxygen on the planet, resulted in the majority of our oil deposits. It settled to the bottom and formed miles deep layers of bio mass, which became the oil.

not a scientist, it’s just what I have read.


8 posted on 02/25/2014 10:39:04 AM PST by Chuzzlewit
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To: dangus

My brain wants to explode at your false conclusions.

Before there were plants there were single celled organisms. These single celled organism likely grew a dependence on an ocean that was saturated with Oxygen, when the oxygen crashed the majority of these organisms disappeared. Those that survived developed mechanisms to utilize available energy sources such as iron oxide and CO2. Giving rise to more complex organisms.


9 posted on 02/25/2014 10:43:59 AM PST by aft_lizard
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To: DannyTN

Kinda hard to get solid scientific proof for this, eh? So it’s a way of getting recognition and getting in the news.


10 posted on 02/25/2014 10:52:54 AM PST by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible traitors. Complicit in the destruction of our country.)
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To: FReepers
Big Bang Theory?


Click The Pic To Donate

Support FR, Donate Monthly If You Can

11 posted on 02/25/2014 10:56:25 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (The Fed Gov is not one ring to rule them all)
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To: null and void

the key was a lack of oxygen and nutrient elements, which placed evolution in a precarious position. “During that billion years, oxygen levels declined and the oceans were losing the ingredients needed for life to develop into more complex organisms.”


What is this nonsense? Times of hardship and shortage are exactly when natural selection kicks into high gear, selecting the most fit organisms even more aggressively than usual. If anything would stall natural selection, it would be an extended period of plenty, not a shortage.


12 posted on 02/25/2014 10:59:19 AM PST by Boogieman
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To: aft_lizard
So which were first, orgs that consumed CO2 or orgs that consumed O2?

Sounds like the later. Interesting that both types depend on each other, now. Well, O2 life relies on plants to produce O2.

13 posted on 02/25/2014 11:03:01 AM PST by dhs12345
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To: dangus

“Plants are the prevalent life forms. To them, carbon dioxide is life, and oxygen is nothing more than a dangerous waste product.”

Plants do respire oxygen at night though, so it’s not really a dangerous waste product.


14 posted on 02/25/2014 11:04:04 AM PST by Boogieman
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To: null and void

I don’t know what any of that is supposed to mean, but I do know that “Cloister the Stupid” would make a great Freeper name!


15 posted on 02/25/2014 11:11:50 AM PST by Mr. K (If you like your constitution, you can keep it...Period.)
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To: aft_lizard

You’re the ignorant one. Molecular oxygen is the 2nd most strongly reducing molecule in the cosmos. It cannot long persist in any environment which has not been already nearly completely reduced. The initial atmosphere, therefore, had almost zero oxygen and high concentrations of carbon dioxide.

For millenia, only chemotrophic organisms existed, held in meager numbers by the organism’s own inability to generate their own food. The atmosphere became rich in oxygen when single-celled autotrophs emerged, which consumed CO2 and generated molecular oxygen. At first, their waste product, oxygen, continued to react with the still only partially reduced environment, and be removed from the system. But eventually, the oxygen began to build up and poison nearly the entire first-generation biosphere. Fortunately, before the autotrophs were destroyed, an equilibrium between one one hand natural and chemotrophic reduction and on the other autotrophic oxygen production was reached. Thus the autotrophs survived long enough for the world’s first oxidizing autotrophs to emerge.


16 posted on 02/25/2014 11:15:31 AM PST by dangus
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To: null and void

Ok, so life evolved 3.6 billion years ago, then sat around being boring and slimy until 550 million (0.6 billion) years ago. The article repeatedly states that this boring epoch (3.6 - 0.6) was “one billion” years. Someone’s math is a bit off. Or maybe it’s fedgov accounting (”a few billion here, a few billion there, what’s the difference”)?


17 posted on 02/25/2014 11:18:14 AM PST by lump in the melting pot (Half-brother is Watching You!)
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To: Boogieman

>> Plants do respire oxygen at night though, so it’s not really a dangerous waste product. <<

Well, yes and no:

The plants that SURVIVED the great oxygen poisoning are not poisoned by oxygen, tautologically. But 99.9999999999999% of all the plants which existed at the time went extinct. (By plants, I mean autotrophs, whether procryotic, eucaryotic or multicellular. With 3-, 5- and even 8-kingdom models, some people think you mean “Kingdom Plantae” when you say “plants.” Plantae were not around.)

Also, only a very small portion of plants respire oxygen at night. These are called “C-4” plants, although they are disappointingly not very explosive.


18 posted on 02/25/2014 11:20:30 AM PST by dangus
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To: dangus

>> It cannot long persist in any environment which has not been already nearly completely reduced <<

Any first-semester chemistry student will recognize I wrote “reduced” when I obviously meant “oxidized.”


19 posted on 02/25/2014 11:21:47 AM PST by dangus
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To: Mr. K; camle; Alkhin; Professional Engineer; katana; Mr. Silverback; MadIvan; agrarianlady; ...

Red Dwarf was a BBC science fiction comedy. A science fiction comedy??? Does that even work? Oh yeah, BIG time.

It ran for eight seasons, and had a subsequent movie and a few books.

It skewers so much of modern life that the saying around the nully household is “If it exists, there is a Red Dwarf of it.”

There are DVDs available, and I believe it’s on Netflix


20 posted on 02/25/2014 11:26:58 AM PST by null and void (<--- unwilling cattle-car passenger on the bullet train to serfdom)
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To: lump in the melting pot
I was about to comment:
Actually, it's not so much bad math as bad reporting. In addition to the billion-year gap that the article is about, there's another two-billion-year gap.
Then I said to myself, "That's not right..." so stopped and fact-checked myself with wikipedia. The "Proterazoic" era lasted for TWO billion years, and the earlier Archean period lasted only ONE billion years.
21 posted on 02/25/2014 11:27:28 AM PST by dangus
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To: dangus

It might surprise you to know that plants require oxygen too. During the day there is generally plenty of O2 around as a byproduct of photosynthesis, but during the night they have to pull it in from the atmosphere to metabolize sugars.


22 posted on 02/25/2014 11:27:53 AM PST by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: null and void

Chuck Norris scared the evolution out of them.


23 posted on 02/25/2014 11:40:02 AM PST by Organic Panic
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To: null and void
QUOTE: The first life developed in the ancient oceans around 3.6 billion years ago...

Believers in abiogenesis have more faith than any creationist around.

The first life "developed" with the ability to process food, extract nutrients, and reproduce, all simultaneously! Incredible!

24 posted on 02/25/2014 11:57:27 AM PST by jimmyray
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To: dangus

“Also, only a very small portion of plants respire oxygen at night.”

Interesting. That’s what I get for listening to science teachers as if they know what they are talking about.


25 posted on 02/25/2014 11:57:27 AM PST by Boogieman
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To: null and void

then again there was an article yesterday - don’t know if it made it to FR - but a zircon crystal was dated to 4.4 billion years ago. To form, it meant that Earth was a fairly nice place then.

From the article:
— “To put that age in perspective, the Earth itself formed 4.5 billion years ago as a ball of molten rock, meaning that its crust formed relatively soon thereafter, 100 million years later. The age of the crystal also means that the crust appeared just 160 million years after the very formation of the solar system.”

— “The finding supports the notion of a “cool early Earth” where temperatures were low enough to sustain oceans, and perhaps life, earlier than previously thought, Valley said.”


26 posted on 02/25/2014 12:00:49 PM PST by PIF (They came for me and mine ... now it is your turn ...)
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To: null and void

If course, the classic sci-fi comedy is “Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (the BBC series, radio series, and book “trilogy”... NOT the dreadfully bad movie). Noteworthy for being very good science fiction, not just a comedy in a science-fiction setting. A former Doctor Who author finally just let the naturally humorous settings leap from mere camp to deliberate, biting satire.

With regards to the movie: You had to know the jokes to understand what was happening (”Why is the elevator sighing?”), and if you already know the jokes, why watch the movie?


27 posted on 02/25/2014 12:17:11 PM PST by dangus
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To: PIF

Zircon crystallizes out at about 2500°C (about 4500°F) still a bit warm for oceans to form, doncha think?


28 posted on 02/25/2014 12:41:01 PM PST by null and void (<--- unwilling cattle-car passenger on the bullet train to serfdom)
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To: jimmyray

Amen! Methinks the serious sludge is right now filling the cranial cavity of these “scientists.” I’ll take my chances with Genesis 1 and John 3.


29 posted on 02/25/2014 12:45:30 PM PST by Tucker39 (Welcome to America! Now speak English; and keep to the right....In driving, in Faith, and in politic)
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To: null and void

Not my call - that’s what they said. It was some millions of years later - after the crystal formation - that the Earth cooled and the crust formed.

Article referenced:

Tiny Crystal Is Oldest Known Piece of Earth, Scientists Say

Scientists using two different age-determining techniques have shown that a tiny zircon crystal found on a sheep ranch in western Australia is the oldest known piece of our planet, dating to 4.4 billion years ago.
Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday, the researchers said the discovery indicates that Earth’s crust formed relatively soon after the planet formed and that the little gem was a remnant of it.

John Valley, a University of Wisconsin geoscience professor who led the research, said the findings suggest that the early Earth was not as harsh a place as many scientists have thought.

HANDOUT / Reuters
A 4.4 billion-year-old zircon crystal from the Jack Hills region of Australia has been confirmed to be the oldest bit of the Earth’s crust.
To determine the age of the zircon fragment, the scientists first used a widely accepted dating technique based on determining the radioactive decay of uranium to lead in a mineral sample.
But because some scientists hypothesized that this technique might give a false date due to possible movement of lead atoms within the crystal over time, the researchers turned to a second sophisticated method to verify the finding.
They used a technique known as atom-probe tomography that was able to identify individual atoms of lead in the crystal and determine their mass, and confirmed that the zircon was indeed 4.4 billion years old.
To put that age in perspective, the Earth itself formed 4.5 billion years ago as a ball of molten rock, meaning that its crust formed relatively soon thereafter, 100 million years later. The age of the crystal also means that the crust appeared just 160 million years after the very formation of the solar system.

The finding supports the notion of a “cool early Earth” where temperatures were low enough to sustain oceans, and perhaps life, earlier than previously thought, Valley said.
The zircon was extracted in 2001 from a rock outcrop in Australia’s Jack Hills region. For a rock of such importance, it is rather small. It measures only about 200 by 400 microns, about twice the diameter of a human hair.
—Reuters
First published February 23rd 2014, 7:18 pm


30 posted on 02/25/2014 5:35:13 PM PST by PIF (They came for me and mine ... now it is your turn ...)
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To: PIF

how old is the slime??


31 posted on 02/25/2014 5:36:08 PM PST by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans!)
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To: null and void
Sorry, nully, but red dwarf is most definitely NOT on netflix.

I just did a search, and came up genuinely saddened.
That said, and just for snits and giggles:

Tongue-Tied, by Kat

32 posted on 02/26/2014 12:44:18 AM PST by Don W (Know what you WANT. Know what you NEED. Know the DIFFERENCE!)
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To: Don W
Sorry, nully, but red dwarf is most definitely NOT on netflix.

It's available in America on Netflix streaming.

Perhaps The Crown doesn't want Canadians to view it?

33 posted on 03/01/2014 10:49:54 AM PST by null and void (<--- unwilling cattle-car passenger on the bullet train to serfdom)
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To: null and void

I used to watch it whenever it was on KCTS9, which was carried on basic cable, but my search on Netflix was a rum go. I’ll try to find it again.


34 posted on 03/02/2014 8:32:58 AM PST by Don W (Know what you WANT. Know what you NEED. Know the DIFFERENCE!)
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