Darwinism Origin Of Life

Everything new is old again: Photosynthesis from 3.3 billion years ago

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In “Calcified clue to ancient photosynthesis” (Nature, 2011/07/06), Katharine Sanderson reports:

Mat of microbes contains calcium carbonate that could only have formed through photosynthesis.The most direct evidence yet for ancient photosynthesis has been uncovered in a fossil of a matted carpet of microbes that lived on a beach 3.3 billion years ago.

[ … ]

“One of many mysteries about the early fossil record is the lack of calcified examples of microbial filaments, which are usually found in shallow marine contexts consistent with photosynthesis,” says Martin Brasier, an expert on ancient biological processes at the University of Oxford, UK. Brasier is cautious about the results, saying he would like to see independent confirmation of the work.

Another view

Other ancient mats have been studied, but Westall says evidence that they photosynthesized has been indirect — either being assumed from their carbon-isotope composition, which Westall argues can also come from non-photosynthetic microbes, or by looking closely at the mat’s structure and seeing microbe-like structures.

Anyone remember the schoolroom sound bite that a century ago many scientists doubted Darwin because Lord Kelvin had said there wasn’t enough time for evolution, the Earth only being 100 million years old. Well, Earth turned out to be 4.2 billion years old. Therefore, there was enough time! End of story.

But what if life processes existed from at or near the beginning? Who or what comes to the rescue now? The multiverse?

File with “Plenty of time for Darwinian evolution” Oh and, copy editor, check that title, will you?

15 Replies to “Everything new is old again: Photosynthesis from 3.3 billion years ago

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Ack. There’s that pesky little light sensitive spot again.

    Just can’t seem to get past it no matter what we do.


    Is that natural?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:


    Odd Geometry of Bacteria May Provide New Way to Study Earth’s Oldest Fossils – May 2010
    Excerpt: One way that geologists try to decipher how cells functioned as far back as 3 billion years is by studying modern microbial mats, or gooey layers of nutrient-exchanging bacteria that grow mostly on moist surfaces and collect dirt and minerals that crystallize over time. Eventually, the bacteria turn to stone just beneath the crystallized material, thereby recording their history within the crystalline skeletons. Known as stromatolites, the layered rock formations are considered to be the oldest fossils on Earth.,,, Known as stromatolites, the layered rock formations are considered to be the oldest fossils on Earth.,,,That the spacing pattern corresponds to the mats’ metabolic period — and is also seen in ancient rocks — shows that the same basic physical processes of diffusion and competition seen today were happening billions of years ago,,,

    Static evolution: is pond scum the same now as billions of years ago?
    Excerpt: But what intrigues (paleo-biologist) J. William Schopf most is lack of change. Schopf was struck 30 years ago by the apparent similarities between some 1-billion-year-old fossils of blue-green bacteria and their modern microbial microbial. “They surprisingly looked exactly like modern species,” Schopf recalls. Now, after comparing data from throughout the world, Schopf and others have concluded that modern pond scum differs little from the ancient blue-greens. “This similarity in morphology is widespread among fossils of [varying] times,” says Schopf. As evidence, he cites the 3,000 such fossils found;

    The Sudden Appearance Of Photosynthetic Life On Earth – video

    Life – Its Sudden Origin and Extreme Complexity – Dr. Fazale Rana – video

    The evidence scientists have discovered in the geologic record is stunning in its support of the anthropic hypothesis. The oldest sedimentary rocks on earth, known to science, originated underwater (and thus in relatively cool environs) 3.86 billion years ago. Those sediments, which are exposed at Isua in southwestern Greenland, also contain the earliest chemical evidence (fingerprint) of ‘photosynthetic’ life [Nov. 7, 1996, Nature]. This evidence had been fought by materialists since it is totally contrary to their evolutionary theory. Yet, Danish scientists were able to bring forth another line of geological evidence to substantiate the primary line of geological evidence for photo-synthetic life in the earth’s earliest sedimentary rocks.

    U-rich Archaean sea-floor sediments from Greenland – indications of +3700 Ma oxygenic photosynthesis (2003)

    Moreover, evidence for ‘sulfate reducing’ bacteria, in the oldest sedimentary rocks found on earth, has been discover alonside the evidence for photosynthetic bacteria:

    When Did Life First Appear on Earth? – Fazale Rana – December 2010
    Excerpt: The primary evidence for 3.8 billion-year-old life consists of carbonaceous deposits, such as graphite, found in rock formations in western Greenland. These deposits display an enrichment of the carbon-12 isotope. Other chemical signatures from these formations that have been interpreted as biological remnants include uranium/thorium fractionation and banded iron formations. Recently, a team from Australia argued that the dolomite in these formations also reflects biological activity, specifically that of sulfate-reducing bacteria.

    Thus we now have fairly conclusive evidence for photosynthetic bacterial life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found by scientists on earth. The simplest photosynthetic life on earth is exceedingly complex, too complex to happen by accident even if the primeval oceans had been full of pre-biotic soup.

    The Miracle Of Photosynthesis – electron transport – video

    Electron transport and ATP synthesis during photosynthesis – Illustration

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:


    There is actually a molecular motor, that surpasses man made motors in engineering parameters, that is integral to the photosynthetic process:

    Evolution vs ATP Synthase – Molecular Machine – video

    The ATP Synthase Enzyme – an exquisite motor necessary for first life – video

    The photosynthetic process is clearly a irreducible complex condition:

    “There is no question about photosynthesis being Irreducibly Complex. But it’s worse than that from an evolutionary perspective. There are 17 enzymes alone involved in the synthesis of chlorophyll. Are we to believe that all intermediates had selective value? Not when some of them form triplet states that have the same effect as free radicals like O2. In addition if chlorophyll evolved before antenna proteins, whose function is to bind chlorophyll, then chlorophyll would be toxic to cells. Yet the binding function explains the selective value of antenna proteins. Why would such proteins evolve prior to chlorophyll? and if they did not, how would cells survive chlorophyll until they did?” Uncommon Descent Blogger

    Evolutionary biology: Out of thin air John F. Allen & William Martin:
    The measure of the problem is here: “Oxygenetic photosynthesis involves about 100 proteins that are highly ordered within the photosynthetic membranes of the cell.”

    Of note: anoxygenic (without oxygen) photosynthesis is even more of a complex chemical pathway than oxygenic photosynthesis is:

    “Remarkably, the biosynthetic routes needed to make the key molecular component of anoxygenic photosynthesis are more complex than the pathways that produce the corresponding component required for the oxygenic form.”;
    Hugh Ross

    In what I find to be a very fascinating discovery, it is found that photosynthetic life, which is an absolutely vital link that all higher life on earth is dependent on, seems to be designed right into the foundation of this universe. This is because photosynthetic life is found to actually use the foundational quantum mechanical principles of this universe to accomplish its photosynthesis. Once again it seems overwhelmingly obvious that the universe was designed with life in mind from its creation.

    Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems. Gregory S. Engel, Nature (12 April 2007)
    Photosynthetic complexes are exquisitely tuned to capture solar light efficiently, and then transmit the excitation energy to reaction centres, where long term energy storage is initiated.,,,, This wavelike characteristic of the energy transfer within the photosynthetic complex can explain its extreme efficiency, in that it allows the complexes to sample vast areas of phase space to find the most efficient path. —- Conclusion? Obviously Photosynthesis is a brilliant piece of design by “Someone” who even knows how quantum mechanics works.

    Quantum Mechanics at Work in Photosynthesis: Algae Familiar With These Processes for Nearly Two Billion Years – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: “We were astonished to find clear evidence of long-lived quantum mechanical states involved in moving the energy. Our result suggests that the energy of absorbed light resides in two places at once — a quantum superposition state, or coherence — and such a state lies at the heart of quantum mechanical theory.”,,, “It suggests that algae knew about quantum mechanics nearly two billion years before humans,” says Scholes.

    Life Masters Physics – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: Collini et al.2 report evidence suggesting that a process known as quantum coherence ‘wires’ together distant molecules in the light-harvesting apparatus of marine cryptophyte algae.,,,“Intriguingly, recent work has documented that light-absorbing molecules in some photosynthetic proteins capture and transfer energy according to quantum-mechanical probability laws instead of classical laws at temperatures up to 180 K,”. ,,, “This contrasts with the long-held view that long-range quantum coherence between molecules cannot be sustained in complex biological systems, even at low temperatures.”


    Fine Tuning Of Universal Constants, Particularly Light – Walter Bradley – video

    Fine Tuning Of Light to the Atmosphere, to Biological Life, and to Water – graphs

  4. 4
    Neil Rickert says:

    But what if life processes existed from at or near the beginning? Who or what comes to the rescue now?

    I am under the impression that many people think that life has existed from very early, perhaps not too long after the earth had cooled down enough. I’m not sure why that would need something to “come to the rescue”. It is widely accepted that the origin of life on Earth is not yet adequately explained.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    Not enough time? Just claim it was all part of the origin of life (and we all know that’s not explained yet).

    Although, without Darwinian processes at work, I’m not sure how fobbing it off on “the problem of the origin of life” helps the materialist one whit. That just makes it take even more time, or magick.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    notes: ,,,also there is corroborating ‘dating evidence’ for oxygenic photosynthesis from ‘terra-forming’ of the 3.8 billion year old primordial Earth:

    The following video is good for seeing just how far back the red banded iron formations (BIF) really go (3.8 billion years ago). But be warned, Dr. Newman operates from a materialistic worldview and makes many unwarranted allusions of the ‘magical’ power of evolution to produce photosynthetic bacteria. Although to be fair, she does readily acknowledge the staggering level of complexity being dealt with in photosynthesis, as well as admitting that no one really knows how photosynthesis evolved.

    Exploring the deep connection between bacteria and rocks – Dianne Newman – MIT lecture video

    This following paper backs up Dr. Newman’s assertions with another line of evidence:

    Ancient Microbes Responsible for Breathing Life Into Ocean ‘Deserts’ – August 2010
    Excerpt: Brian Kendall and Ariel Anbar, together with colleagues at other institutions, show that “oxygen oases” in the surface ocean were sites of significant oxygen production long before the breathing gas began to accumulate in the atmosphere..,, What Kendall discovered was a unique relationship of high rhenium and low molybdenum enrichments in the samples from South Africa, pointing to the presence of dissolved oxygen on the seafloor itself.,,, “It was especially satisfying to see two different geochemical methods — rhenium and molybdenum abundances and Fe chemistry — independently tell the same story,” Kendall noted. Evidence that the atmosphere contained at most minute amounts of oxygen came from measurements of the relative abundances of sulfur (S) isotopes.

    New Wrinkle In Ancient Ocean Chemistry – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: “Our data point to oxygen-producing photosynthesis long before concentrations of oxygen in the atmosphere were even a tiny fraction of what they are today, suggesting that oxygen-consuming chemical reactions were offsetting much of the production,”

    These following articles explore some of the other complex geochemical processes that are also involved in the forming of the red banded iron, and other precious ore, formations on the ancient earth.

    Banded Rocks Reveal Early Earth Conditions, Changes
    Excerpt: Called banded iron formations or BIFs, these ancient rocks formed between 3.8 and 1.7 billion years ago at what was then the bottom of the ocean. The stripes represent alternating layers of silica-rich chert and iron-rich minerals like hematite and magnetite. First mined as a major iron source for modern industrialization, BIFs are also a rich source of information about the geochemical conditions that existed on Earth when the rocks were made.

    The Life and Death of Oxygen – 2008
    Excerpt: “The balance between burial of organic matter and its oxidation appears to have been tightly controlled over the past 500 million years.” “The presence of O2 in the atmosphere requires an imbalance between oxygenic photosynthesis and aerobic respiration on time scales of millions of years hence, to generate an oxidized atmosphere, more organic matter must be buried (by tectonic activity) than respired.” – Paul Falkowski


    Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides. – Paul G. Falkowski – Professor Geological Sciences – Rutgers

    etc.. etc..

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    of somewhat related interest:

    As well, in conjunction with bacteria, geological processes helped detoxify the earth of dangerous levels of metal:

    The Concentration of Metals for Humanity’s Benefit:
    Excerpt: They demonstrated that hydrothermal fluid flow could enrich the concentration of metals like zinc, lead, and copper by at least a factor of a thousand. They also showed that ore deposits formed by hydrothermal fluid flows at or above these concentration levels exist throughout Earth’s crust. The necessary just-right precipitation conditions needed to yield such high concentrations demand extraordinary fine-tuning. That such ore deposits are common in Earth’s crust strongly suggests supernatural design.

    And on top of the fact that poisonous heavy metals on the primordial earth were brought into ‘life-enabling’ balance by complex biogeochemical processes, there was also an explosion of minerals on earth which were a result of that first life, as well as being a result of each subsequent ‘Big Bang of life’ there afterwards.

    The Creation of Minerals:
    Excerpt: Thanks to the way life was introduced on Earth, the early 250 mineral species have exploded to the present 4,300 known mineral species. And because of this abundance, humans possessed all the necessary mineral resources to easily launch and sustain global, high-technology civilization.

    “Today there are about 4,400 known minerals – more than two-thirds of which came into being only because of the way life changed the planet. Some of them were created exclusively by living organisms” – Bob Hazen – Smithsonian – Oct. 2010, pg. 54

    To put it mildly, this minimization of poisonous elements, and ‘explosion’ of useful minerals, is strong evidence for Intelligently Designed terra-forming of the earth that ‘just so happens’ to be of great benefit to modern man.

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    NR of course neatly side-steps the issue that the spontaneous origin of life on chance plus necessity is ever more implausible as the window of time shrinks. And, once it is seriously on the table that life at its root is a product of art and technique, then the whole darwinist house of cards collapses, as we now have no reason to be inferring to strained and utterly implausible chance occurrences to account for the origin of body plans. Not when we have good reason to see that — on empirically reliable signs shown by the living cell, such as codes, algorithms, code based von Neumann replication and many other instances of functionally specific complex information and organisation that are only known on massive observation to come from design and are credibly analytically beyond the reasonable reach of chance and trial and error on the scale of the observed cosmos — the most credible source for the origin of life is design.

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    Photosynthesis is a process by which light energy is converted into chemical energy. Understanding energy conversions is not trivial, and this BioCoach activity is designed to enhance your understanding and retention of the content by illustrating and animating the fundamental processes involved in photosynthesis.


    Although seemingly simple in concept, the photosynthesis process is very complicated. Follow these links to articles that discuss photosynthesis at varying degrees of complexity. Also, jump to I Didn’t Know That! A collection of brief factoids with links to more information.


  10. 10
    Mung says:

    How many times did photosynthesis evolve?

  11. 11
    Ilion says:

    When I started school, oh xx years ago, the earth was only 2.0 billion years old. I *think* it had been about 1.5 billion just a few years previous to that.

    It’s amazing how time flies!

  12. 12
    DrREC says:

    Considering some of the most ancient rocks have banded iron formations (iron oxides) an evolutionist would seriously hope there would be other corroborating evidence of photosynthesis that old!

    Illion-when did you start school? Circa 1946, and certainly by 1956, there are essentially correct estimations of the age of the earth. Holmes, in 1916 might be the last to estimate around 1.5 billions years.

    Congratulations on a long and interesting life?!?

  13. 13
    Mung says:

    Hi DrREC!

    Please answer my question.

    How many times did photosynthesis evolve?

  14. 14
    DrREC says:

    “How many times did photosynthesis evolve?”

    Many times, in more ways than imagined:

    Oriental hornets powered by ‘solar energy’

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    So if we rewind the tape…

    Gould was a liar.

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