Geoscientists shed a light on life’s evolution 800 million years ago

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Geoscientists at Virginia Tech have uncovered evidence of a key time in evolution of life on Earth. Findings published in Science Advances point to a rise in biologically available nitrogen occurring in step with the dominance of marine eukaryotes. Complex eukaryotic cells evolved into multicellular organisms, giving star to life such as animals, plants and fungi. Previous studies about the rise of eukaryotes have focused on phosphorus; a doctoral student, Junyao Kang, hypothesised nitrogen played a role in the shift. The team used nitrogen isotope analysis of rock samples dating back more than a billion years from the North China Craton. Collaborating with China’s Nanjing University, the Virginia Tech team compared the nitrogen data with other geographic locations and timescales, which showed nitrates rose around 800 million years ago, coinciding with the development of eukaryotic ecosystems. The research is seen as valuable for helping to understand how environmental changes in the past may have influenced evolution, with Professor Shuhai Xiao, noting that such findings can give hope to future discoveries.

Geoscientists Illuminate Evolution of Life 800 Million Years Ago

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