PALAEOBOTANICAL RESEARCH GROUP
UNIVERSITY  MÜNSTER


THE   EARLIEST  LIFE


The very beginning is probably one of the most fascinating parts of the story of life. The oldest fossils are the approximately 3.465 Billion-year-old (Ga) microfossils from the Apex Chert, Australia.  These are colonies of cyanobacteria (formerly called blue-green algae) which built real reefs. The oldest stromatolites were found in Australia and are dated 3.45 Ga.


Taxon / Subject
Web Source
Comments
Pics
Info
Precambrian Microfossils.  The oldest well dated and well preserved microsfossils were described by J.W. Schopf from the Apex Chert at Marble Bar, Western Australia.  These are dated at 3.465 Ga. Microfossils from Swaziland (South Africa) have a similar age.  The North American Gunflint Chert (2 Ga) is the first occurrence of Precambrian microfossils that has been discovered and published.  The Belcher Group microfossils from Canada have a similar age.  The Bitter Springs Chert (central Australia; 0.8 Ga) has definitely yielded the richest and best preserved association of Precambrian microfossils. 
Apex Chert microfossils (3.465 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA J. William Schopf; 1993 
Swaziland microfossils, S-Africa (3.5 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA Knoll & Barghoorn
Gunflint microfossils (2 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA J. William Schopf, 1993 
Belcher Group microfossils (2 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA Hans J. Hofmann
Bungle-Bungle microfossils, W-Austr. (1.5 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA Bruce Runnegar
Cyanobacteria, N-Australia (1.5 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA John Oehler
Mesoproterozoic cyanobacteria Astrobiology  at UCLA Sergeev and others, 1995 
Roper Group microfossils, N-Australia (1.4 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA C.J. Peat
Bitter Springs microfossils (0.85 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA J. William Schopf, 1987 
Bitter Springs cyanobacteria (0.85 Ga) Astrobiology  at UCLA J.William Schopf, 1987
Bitter Springs, chroococcalean (0,85 Ga) Univ. California Berkeley,  Mus. Paleont.   
Bitter Springs, Palaeolyngbya (0,85 Ga) Univ. California Berkeley,  Mus. Paleont.   
Precambrian stromatolites
The earliest life Field Museum Chicago  Earth at the dawn of life (ca. 3.5 Ga)
Early life Worldwide Museum  Natural History stromatolites (ca. 2 Ga) 
Stromatolites Sendai Museum, Japan  China (ca 2 Ga)
Cambrian stromatolites, N-China, side view Astrobiology  at UCLA  
Cambrian stromatolites,  N-China, top view Astrobiology  at UCLA  
Fossil Cyanobacteria Univ. California Berkeley,  Mus. Paleont.   
Older and younger stromatolites Université Laval  
Fossil and Modern Stromatolites Cushman Foundation  
Modern stromatolites 
Shark Bay, Western Australia Astrobiology  at UCLA Brian  Logan
Elongate stromatolites, Shark Bay Astrobiology  at UCLA Brian  Logan
Shark Bay stromatolites Astrobiology  at UCLA Brian  Logan
Shark Bay stromatolites Université Laval  
Shark Bay stromatolites Université Laval  
Shark Bay stromatolites Université Laval  
Shark Bay stromatolites Univ. California Berkeley, Mus. Paläont.  
Hamelin Pool, Western Australia Discover West Holidays  
Hamelin Pool, Western Australia NatureBase National Parks  
Hamelin Bay National Parks Australia  
Shark Bay stromatolites Australiaphotos  
Western Australia Wayne RESA  Net  
Western Australia Physic Department Weber State University  
Shark Bay Lamont-Doherty / Columbia University  
Shark Bay Dept. Space Studies,  Southwest Res. Inst.   
Shark Bay Bellarmine College, Department of Biology  
Shark Bay Queens University, Kingston, Ontario  
Modern Stromatolites Bahamas Cyansite / Purdue  
Modern Cyanobacteria
Cyanosite Purdue University A great reseource !!
Cyanobacteria Univ. California Berkeley, Mus. Paläont.  
Cyanobacteria Univ. Miami, Dept. Biology  
Cyanophyta Univ. Hawai, Dept. Botany  
Cyanobacteria Univ. Hawai, Dept. Botany  
 
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Disclaimer

The last check of the list of links was done on 5 December 2002. The links give the most direct connections to pictures available on the web; in many cases they are from sites that have additional palaeobotanical information.  The above ratings refer to: 
1. Pics: the quality of the specimens, particularly with regard to characteristic features, and to the quality of the pictures. 
2. Info: the additional information provided.
Ratings are of course subjective but should be helpful for finding the fastest way to good pictures on the web. Suggestions for improvement and hints to other internet resources are most welcome

 

© Forschungsstelle für Paläobotanik, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
December 2003