About time. Readers may recall that the first billion years of life when, we are told, simple microbes dominated, have been considered boring.
Well, books where we have only .01 percent of the text preserved are boring too.
But things may be changing. From Science News:
1.8 billion years ago, low oxygen may not have hindered life after all
After this wild youth of rapid change, things slowed down. About 1.8 billion years ago, the climate stabilized. Oxygen levels steadied. Evolution seemingly stalled. For around a billion years, not a lot changed on planet Earth. Scientists called this interval the dullest time in Earth’s history. It came to be known as the “boring billion.”
But scientists are taking a fresh look at the boring billion and coming up with very different, downright fascinating, alternatives. Recent work recasts the era as a possibly pivotal (and definitely contentious) chapter in the story of life, which took a new twist not long after, with the introduction of animals.
At that time, they say, a supercontinent called Nuna formed and broke up.
Pinpointing when animals could have evolved, based on atmospheric conditions alone, is difficult because estimates of early animals’ oxygen needs are speculative. After millions of years of adaptation, no early animals are alive today to testify. Instead of guessing how ancient animals might have lived, geobiologists Daniel Mills and Donald Canfield of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and colleagues tested a modern analog: the sea sponge. Their finding challenges the view that low oxygen levels during the boring billion prohibited the evolution of animals, Mills and Canfield wrote last year in BioEssays. More.
If they are there, we may find them. But oxygen is not all that is required to make an animal, so once again, we are running into the information challenge created for Darwinian evolution (natural selection acting on random mutation generates huge levels of information, not noise) .
See also: What we know and don’t, about the origin of life
One Reply to “Earth’s “boring billion” now hot again”
Actually since, as far as life is concerned, the excitment really didn’t start until the Cambrian explosion, I would call it the boring 3 billion plus years:
As well, their estimate for the origin of photosynthesis at 3.2 billion years ago is off by at least a half billion years:
Of related note, although atheists think that humans are just a random fluke accident in the grand scheme of things, Dr. Michael Denton notes that the chemistry of the universe is strangely of maximum benefit for humans and not for any other creatures:
As well, Dr. Ross points out that the extremely long amount of time it took to prepare a suitable place for humans to exist in this universe, for the relatively short period of time that we can exist on this planet, is actually a point of evidence that argues strongly for Theism:
As a Christian, I like the metaphor of ‘preparing for a wedding’ that Dr. Ross uses in the following video to illustrate the disparity that ‘The Anthropic Inequality’ presents in terms of time: