2.4-billion-year-old Fossils of Fungus – #365papers – 2017 – 122

#365papers for May 2, 2017

Bengtson, Rasmussen, Ivarsson, Muhling, Broman, Marone, Stampanoni, and Beckker, 2017, Fungus-like mycelial fossil in 2.4-billion-year-old vesicular basalt: Nature Ecology & Evolution, v. 1, 0141.

What’s it about?

Basalt is a common resulting rock from volcanic eruptions. Bubbles (technically called vesicles) are common in basalt, and simple organisms often move into these openings once the rock has cooled sufficiently.  Here, the authors show what appears to be fungal filaments in vesicles formed 2.4 billion years ago.

Why does it matter?

Fungus apparently has been doing its fungus-y thing for a very long time. This also shows that fungi, as well as complex life with cells that have nuclei, have been around for longer than was originally thought.

Why did I read this?

I’m always interested in reading papers about the earliest forms of life on Earth. This one is a combination of fossils and minerals that makes a fun and compelling story.

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