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The most important event in the evolution of life dates back nearly 3 billion years

The most important event in the evolution of life dates back nearly 3 billion years

There was a moment in the history of the development of life on Earth that changed the course of events that occurred in the following billions of years: Cyanobacteria (or blue algae) have evolved the ability to convert light and water into useful energy for flourishing, while releasing oxygen. The photosynthesis process of chlorophyll, in practice. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently discovered who – which This step occurred between 2.9 and 3.4 billion years ago.

The discovery is of great interest because the release of oxygen and its subsequent accumulation over time allowed for formation The ideal conditions for our planet to become habitable and the development of a variety of life forms that have since followed each other.

Thanks to some new technologies, scientists first came to understand that cyanobacteria still exist on Earth today that evolved from their common ancestors about 2.9 billion years ago, while those organisms that came from them arose, and separated from the rest of the bacteria that existed at the time, 3.4 billion years ago. year. Hence the time period of about 500 million years during which cyanobacteria appeared and then developed their ability to carry out chlorophyll photosynthesis.

Greg Fournier, Professor of Geosciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explained that “Evolutionary processes begin slowly. While there are signs of this very distant start in the time of photosynthesis, which is the single most important step in Earth’s evolution, it took hundreds of millions of years for it to really take off at full capacity.“.

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This is in reference to the fact that this timetable Sets the real beginning of the accumulation of oxygen Many years before the so-called oxygen catastrophe, or the event, dating back about 2.4 billion years, during which anaerobic life forms, which were killed by a change in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, became extinct en masse.

The technique used by Fournier and colleagues, which involves studying how certain genes are passed from one species to another, will be used again because “It promises to provide an accurate overview of different groups of organisms regardless of their type and can also give us indications of very ancient microbes without fossils, something that was previously impossible.“.