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A few (currently scrappy) notes about stromatolites.

Keywords: stromatolites, cyanobacteria, early life, evolution


Stromatolites are “sedimentary structures that are produced by microorganism communities through trapping and binding of sediment, and/or precipitation of carbonate” (Nutman et al. 2016, p. 535, paraphrasing Riding 2011). They have perhaps the longest geological history of any living thing; fossil examples may date back as far as 3.7 Ga (Nutman et al. 2016) and living examples are known, most famously from Shark Bay in Western Australia.


Phylogeny and Evolution

Fossil History



Nutman, A.P.; Bennett, V.C.; Friend, C.R.L.; Kranendonk, M.J.V.; Chivas, A.R. 2016: Rapid emergence of life shown by discovery of 3,700-million-year-old microbial structures. Nature 537: 535-538.

Riding, R. 2011: The nature of stromatolites: 3,500 million years of history and a century of research. In Reitner, J.; Quéric, N.-V.; Arp, G. 2011: Advances in Stromatolite Geobiology. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences, Springer-Verlag 131 : 29-74.


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