Origin of photosynthesis may go further back than estimates from 50 years ago | Science News

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50 Years Ago

Origin of photosynthesis may go further back than estimates from 50 years ago

Excerpt from the March 18, 1967, issue of Science News

By
12:00pm, March 2, 2017
cyanobacteria

SOLAR POWERED  Ancient cyanobacteria, much like these modern-day ones, expelled oxygen into Earth’s atmosphere as a byproduct of photosynthesis, perhaps as early as 3.2 billion years ago.

Evidence of Precambrian life

From deep in the gold mines of South Africa’s Orange Free State has come evidence that there was some form of biologic activity on Earth at least 2.15 billion years ago. Polymerized hydrocarbon “chemo-fossils” found in the gold ores … [probably] were originally part of a rich bacterial and algal life in the Witwatersrand basin. Since the rock layers from which they come have been dated to about 2.15 billion years ago, it seems likely that photosynthesis existed on Earth before then.  — Science News, March 18, 1967

UPDATE

Scientists still debate when early photo­synthesizing organisms

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