Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ancient organisms discovered in Canadian gold mine

22.08.2007
Scientists have suspected that the three known domains of life -- eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea -- branched off and went their separate ways around three billion years ago. But pinning down the time of that split has been an elusive task.

Now, a team of scientists present direct evidence that the three domains of life coexisted at least as long as 2.7 billion years ago.

The discovery came from chemical examination of shale samples, loaded with oily lipid remains of archaea found in a deep Canadian gold mine near Timmins, Ontario, about 400 miles north of Toronto.

Details are reported in the August 20-24 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fabien Kenig, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his former doctoral student Gregory Ventura, spent nearly five years carefully analyzing the shale samples, originally to compare what they found with an earlier Australian study suggesting the presence of eukaryotes some 2.7 billion years ago.

Ventura, now a post-doctoral researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said initial laboratory results stunned him. "I thought there was something very wrong, that the samples were contaminated," he said.

But Kenig was more confident they were on to something significant.

They didn't learn the true value of the material until it was analyzed using a sophisticated, multi-dimensional gas chromatography instrument at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

When they analyzed a sample, Kenig said, they were able to pull apart its complex mixture of molecular fossils, and found it was "essentially made of archaea-derived lipids."

The archaea lived in water and sediments when the region was covered by the sea. After burial, the archaea thrived where very hot water circulated in the rocks and where gold was deposited. Later, shale containing fossilized archaea got buried under thousands of feet of volcanic rock and sediments.

The researchers studied shale samples using a scanning electron microscope. They also analyzed rock formation, mineral deposits and molecular fossils. Findings led the researchers to conclude that archaea and the other two life domains coexisted.

"Now we are sure the three domains of life were well separated and evolving (independently) by 2.7 billion years ago," said Kenig.

The finding broadens the known geographic reach of archaea during this time period, adding proof that the ancient organisms existed both in sedimentary environments and in subsurface hydrothermal settings.

"Considering the extent and composition of today's deep biosphere, it is likely that such hydrothermal subsurface communities have existed for much of the Earth's history," Ventura and Kenig write.

Paul Francuch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uic.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Fossil coral reefs show sea level rose in bursts during last warming
19.10.2017 | Rice University

nachricht NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters
17.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA team finds noxious ice cloud on saturn's moon titan

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New procedure enables cultivation of human brain sections in the petri dish

19.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>