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From Soup to Cellsthe Origin of Life
Many lines of evidence help illuminate the origin of life: ancient fossils, radiometric dating, the phylogenetics and chemistry of modern organisms, and even experiments. However, since new evidence is constantly being discovered, hypotheses about how life originated may change or be modified. It's important to keep in mind that changes to these hypotheses are a normal part of the process of science and that they do not represent a change in the basis of evolutionary theory.
When did life originate?
Stromatolites are still produced by microbes today. These modern stromatolites are remarkably similar to the ancient stromatolites which provide evidence of some of the earliest life on Earth. Modern and ancient stromatolites have similar shapes and, when seen in cross section, both show the same fine layering produced by thin bacterial sheets. Microfossils of ancient cyanobacteria can sometimes be identified within these layers.
Where did life originate?
• Apex Chert microbe-like cellular filament image provided by J. William Schopf.
• Shark Bay stromatolite photos provided by Carole Hickman.
• Great Slave Lake stromatolite photos provided by PF Hoffman.
• Hydrothermal vent photo courtesy of Verena Tunnicliffe, University of Victoria.
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