“Researchers at the University of Oregon have recently unearthed fossils in South Africa that present evidence of life on land 2.2 billion years ago—four times older than traditionally thought.
The fossilized organisms, dubbed Diskagma buttonii, are no bigger than the size of a standard match head and were found threaded together in bunches. Though researchers are still unsure as to their biological function, the organisms most closely resemble a modern fungus calledGeosiphon. The team believes Diskagma could be the oldest known eukaryote, a cellular organism containing a nucleus.
The results of the study, led by geologist Gregory J. Retallack, provide new insight into the development of Earth’s atmosphere. Examining the fossils suggests that the greening of Earth, involving the rise of oxygen and emergence of new plant and animal forms, occurred much earlier than 500 million years ago, the previous estimate.”