Stromatolites are sedimentary formations created by the layered growth of microorganisms in shallow marine settings. Fossil stromatolites constitute some of the earliest evidence for life on Earth. Allen Nutman et al. describe metamorphosed stromatolites deposited around 3,700 million years ago in what is now Greenland. This is more than 200 million years older than the previous record-holders for earliest-known fossils, so these stromatolites rank as the Earth's earliest fossils by some margin. Although there is indirect evidence from isotope geochemistry that the pedigree of life on Earth is even older, this report is likely to be controversial.
- Rapid emergence of life shown by discovery of 3,700-million-year-old microbial structures (Letter p535, doi: 10.1038/nature19355)
- Evidence of life in Earth's oldest rocks (News & Views p500, doi: 10.1038/nature19429)
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