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2.5 billion-year-old Fossils in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa Show Life Existed without Oxygen

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December 1, 2016: Researchers have discovered fossils of 2.5 billion-year-old sulfur-oxidising bacteria that existed just fine without any oxygen.

The ancient life forms were found fossilised in two separate locations in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.

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“These are the oldest reported fossil sulfur bacteria to date,” said Andrew Czaja, Assistant Professor of Geology at University of Cincinnati in the US.

“And this discovery is helping us reveal a diversity of life and ecosystems that existed just prior to the Great Oxidation Event, a time of major atmospheric evolution,” Czaja noted.

These bacteria were thriving just before the era when other shallow water bacteria began creating more and more oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis.

“We refer to this period as the Great Oxidation Event that took place 2.4 to 2.2 billion years ago,” Czaja said.

The 2.52 billion-year-old sulfur-oxidising bacteria are described by Czaja as exceptionally large, spherical-shaped, smooth-walled microscopic structures much larger than most modern bacteria.

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In the study published in journal Geology, Czaja and his colleagues revealed samples of bacteria that were abundant in deep water areas of the ocean in a geologic time known as the Neoarchean Eon (2.8 to 2.5 billion years ago).

“These fossils represent the oldest known organisms that lived in a very dark, deep water environment,” Czaja said.

“We discovered these microfossils preserved in a layer of hard silica-rich rock called chert located within the Kaapvaal craton of South Africa,” Czaja noted.

With an atmosphere of much less than one percent oxygen, scientists have presumed that there were things living in deep water in the mud that did not need sunlight or oxygen, but experts did not have any direct evidence for them until now, Czaja said.

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“These early bacteria likely consumed the molecules dissolved from sulfur-rich minerals that came from land rocks that had eroded and washed out to sea, or from the volcanic remains on the ocean’s floor,” he added.(IANS)

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Indian Companies Invested Over $4 Billion in South Africa, says CII

According to the report, leading Indian companies such as Wipro, state-run Coal India, Cipla, Jindal Steel and Power, Mahindra and Mahindra have recently made investments in South Africa.

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PwC Chief Executive (Southern Africa) Dion Shango said:
Companies, representational image, Pixabay

Indian companies have invested over $4 billion in South Africa and created 18,000 direct jobs in the continent’s biggest economy, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said on Sunday

According to a new CII report “Indian Industry’s Inclusive Footprint in South Africa – Doing business, doing good”, prepared jointly with British advisory multinational Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), there are 140 Indian companies operating in South Africa whose contributions go beyond foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, and include key CSR and skill development initiatives.

“Indian companies operating in South Africa are not just investing funds and creating jobs, but are actively contributing to the upliftment of the communities in which they operate,” a CII release said here.

According to the report, leading Indian companies such as Wipro, state-run Coal India, Cipla, Jindal Steel and Power, Mahindra and Mahindra have recently made investments in South Africa.

According to the report, leading Indian companies such as Wipro, state-run Coal India, Cipla, Jindal Steel and Power, Mahindra and Mahindra have recently made investments in South Africa.
Indian companies invest in South Africa, pixabay

“In the healthcare sector, the entry of Indian pharma companies Ranbaxy and Cipla brought in drastic reduction in the cost of anti-retroviral drugs in South Africa, saving thousands of lives. Indian companies are taking steps to transfer skills to South Africans, particularly in the IT sector,” it said.

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In a statement, CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said: “The report highlights the journey of the historic and economic relationship between India and South Africa, looking at the key sectors where Indian companies are thriving.”

PwC Chief Executive (Southern Africa) Dion Shango said: “Indian companies are demonstrating their commitment to sustainable development in South Africa across education and healthcare schemes to job creation, agricultural projects and empowering women.”

A focus on ethical business practice comes through in the report, as this is of critical importance for Indian companies operating in South Africa, the statement added. (IANS)