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‘World’s oldest fungus’ raises evolution questions

  • Image copyright – Stefan Bengtson – – – – – Image caption – – The fossil life forms were inside a bubble of lava 0.8mm in diameter – – – – Fungus-like life forms have been found in rocks dating back 2.4 billion years.The fossils, drilled from rocks that were…
  • Prof Stefan Bengtson of the Swedish Museum of Natural History led the research team.He said, in the past, scientists may have been looking in the wrong place for the oldest fossil fungi – on land or in shallow seas rather than in the deep sea.
  • “The deep biosphere (where the fossils were found) represents a significant portion of the Earth, but we know very little about its biology and even less about its evolutionary history,” Prof Bengtson told BBC News.The fossils are almost indistinguishable from those found in similar environments on land, although they are…
  • Image copyright – Birger Rasmussen – – – – – Image caption – – Section drilled out of the rock – with gas bubbles colonised by lifeforms – – – – Eukaryotes are any cell or organism with a clearly defined nucleus, while prokaryotes have no nucleus.The fossils were collected…
  • “The research is published in Nature Ecology Evolution.Writing in the journal, Nicola McLoughlin of Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, who is not connected with the study, said the fossil challenges current thinking on when and where eukaryotes evolved.It “raises the question of whether we have been looking in the…

Fossils found in rock from beneath the sea may be the oldest known fungi by one to two billion years.

Image copyright

Stefan Bengtson

Image caption

The fossil life forms were inside a bubble of lava 0.8mm in diameter

Fungus-like life forms have been found in rocks dating back 2.4 billion years.The fossils, drilled from rocks that were once beneath the seafloor, resemble living fungi.Scientists say the discovery could push back the date for the oldest fungi by one to two billion years.The find suggests that fungi arose not on land but in the deep sea. If not a fungus, the organism could be from an extinct branch of life that has not been described before. Prof Stefan Bengtson of the Swedish Museum of Natural History led the research team.He said, in the past, scientists may have been looking in the wrong place for the oldest fossil fungi – on land or in shallow seas rather than in the deep sea.”The deep biosphere (where the fossils were found) represents a significant portion of the Earth, but we know very little about its biology and even less about its evolutionary history,” Prof Bengtson told BBC News.The fossils are almost indistinguishable from those found in similar environments on land, although they are much older.They are made up of jumbles of tangled threads some hundredths of a millimetre thick.Scientists have already discovered such structures – known as mycelia – in similar…

‘World’s oldest fungus’ raises evolution questions