Clusters of islands poked through hot oceans 3.4 billion years ago, when the world still had no oxygen and the seas churned under a pallid, overcast sky. But life thrived on Earth even then, scientists say — and now they have the world’s oldest fossils to prove it.
There were no plants or algae to photosynthesize and produce oxygen, so microbial life used sulfur for energy and growth, researchers say. Microfossils of these earliest microbes extend the sandstone record of life on Earth by about 300 million years.
By Christopher MimsPosted 06.11.2009 at 3:34 am 9 Comments
Yes, but probably not anytime soon. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the planet's average air temperature could warm by as much as 11.5°F by the end of the century. As a result, the world could be warmer than it was 55 million years ago, says Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees, an analysis of hundreds of climate studies that reads like a nonfiction version of The Day after Tomorrow. Back then, the Canadian Arctic was as balmy as Florida and lousy with crocodile-like animals called champsosaurs.
While always keeping an eye forward to the future, Popular Science has had a fixation with all things prehistoric. Here, a look back through the archives at a selection of curated articles from the 1930's, 40's and beyond on everything from tar pit fossil traps to prehistoric humans.
Check out the gallery, and the Land of the Lost trailer, here!