Skip to comments.“The Hidden Kingdom” –Ancient Fossil Resets How Life First Arrived on Land from the Oceans
Posted on 05/24/2019 7:35:12 PM PDT by LibWhacker
Scientists have unearthed fossilized fungi in the remote Northwest Territories of the Canadian Arctic dating back to one billion years, in a discovery that could reshape our understanding of how life first arrived on land from the oceans.
Fungi, the Hidden Kingdom, are not plants. Living things are organized for study into large, basic groups called kingdoms. Fungi were listed in the Plant Kingdom for many years. Then scientists learned that fungi show a closer relation to animals, but are unique and separate life forms. Most fungi build their cell walls out of chitin. This is the same material as the hard outer shells of insects and other arthropods. Plants do not make chitin.
Scientists have identified about 120,000 species of fungi so far, reports Carl Zimmer in The New York Times, but estimate there are as many as 3.3 million species in all. By comparison, all living mammals comprise fewer than 6,400 species. The success of fungi results largely from their unique way of feeding. Rather than absorbing sunlight like plants or devouring other organisms like animals, fungi spew out powerful enzymes. These break down surrounding cells or even rock, which the fungi slurp up.
For decades, the earliest known fungiorganisms such as mushrooms, mould and yeastwas thought to have appeared on earth around half a billion years ago. But the recent fossil specimens unearthed in Canada and analyzed using the latest dating technology appear to push back fungis arrival to the earliest reaches of life on land. Analysis of the rocks showed that these organisms, whatever they were, had fossilized a billion years ago in an estuary, where a river flowed into a sea.
On an expedition in 2017, Robert Rainbird, a research scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada, Corentin Loron, a PhD candidate from the University of Liege, Belgium, and their colleagues discovered some peculiar fossils in the rocks. They were composed of spore-like spheres, often joined to long filaments that sprouted T-shaped branches the kind of shapes found today in fungi.
Rainbird noticed black flecks on a piece of shale. He knew that sometimes flecks like these turn out to be microscopic fossils. I thought, I should grab some of this stuff, because it looks juicy, he said.
Loron examined the microfossils to determine the chemical composition of their cells. They found the presence of chitina fibrous substance that forms on fungal cell wallsand examined the age of the rock the fossils were found in by its ratio of radioactive elements. They concluded the microfossils were between 900 million and one billion years old.
Loron said the finding was significant because in the tree of life, fungi are part of the same umbrella group of organismsknown as Eukaryotesas plants and animals. This means that if fungi are already present around 900-1000 million years ago, so should animals have been, he told AFP. This is reshaping our vision of the world because those groups are still present today. Therefore, this distant past, although very different from today, may have been much more modern than we thought.
Fungi are among the most abundant organisms on the planet and are the third largest contributor to global biomass after plants and bacteria. They are six times heavier than the mass of all animals combinedincluding humans.
"Loron said the finding was significant because in the tree of life, fungi are part of the same umbrella group of organisms - known as Eukaryotes - as plants and animals. This means that if fungi are already present around 900-1000 million years ago, so should animals have been,
about the Diskagma buttonii - no one is sure what they were,
"They most resemble modern soil organisms called Geosiphon, a fungus with a central cavity filled with symbiotic cyanobacteria."
They may have had something to do with the rise of Oxygen in the atmosphere
This gains added significance because fossil soils hosting the fossils have long been taken as evidence for a marked rise in the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere at about 2.4 billion to 2.2 billion years ago, widely called the Great Oxidation Event.
Newly named fossil Diskagma is comparable in morphology and size to Thucomyces lichenoides, a fossil dating to 2.8 billion years ago and also found in South Africa, but its composition, including interior structure and trace elements, is significantly different.
The new fossil is a promising candidate for the oldest known eukaryote - an organism with cells that contain complex structures, including a nucleus, within membranes,
most of the rock from that period and earlier has long been subducted into the Earth. What they are finding might be said to be like looking at a farmers field and deducing the state of our present civilization: most of the evidence for what may have existed then is gone now and we are left with guesses based on little evidence and many assumptions (all of which could well prove to be wrong).
Oh Noes, There’s a fungus amungus.
More from Comedy Central
There’s one I can’t find online....I think I have it tucked into a book, somewhere, of a half dozen salamander-like creatures huddled on a beach, one of them looking over it’s shoulder, and it’s captioned “The Conspiracy Theory of Evolution.” I think I cut it out of OMNI magazine.
I think it was by the same guy that did this one.
LOL! Thanks Larry Lucido.
They found SCHIFF’s family tree?
I m a conodont man, myself.. the Ordovician period really swung.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.