Stromatolites in Hamlin Pools

October 08, 2005

Stromatolites_in_hamlin_pools,_shark_bay,__western_australia copy

Provided by: Susan Rhoades
Summary author: Susan Rhoades

At one time, stromatolites were the dominate life form on this planet. The atmosphere on Earth 3.8 billion years ago (bya) was made up of methane, ammonia, sulfur and other gasses, which are toxic to most life forms, but stromatolites, one of Earth's, thrived in this ancient and toxic atmosphere. The oxygen-rich atmosphere that made complex life on our planet possible was largely a result of stromatolites (cyanobacteria) photosynthesizing during the Archaean and Proterozoic eons (3.8 - 0.5 bya). In addition, stromatolites created the first reef environments on Earth. Today, stromatolites are far from being dominant, and until 1958 they were thought to be extinct when they were re-discovered offshore of Western Australia. The photo above was taken on July 14, 2005, in Shark Bay, Western Australia. [Revised May 2017]

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