Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UCLA Scientists, Colleagues Substantiate Biological Origin Of Earliest Fossils

Date:
March 14, 2002
Source:
University Of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
UCLA paleobiologist J. William Schopf and colleagues have substantiated the biological origin of the earliest known cellular fossils, which are 3.5 billion years old. The research is published in the March 7 issue of the journal Nature. Schopf and a team of scientists at the University of Alabama, Birmingham have devised a new technique using a unique laser-Raman imaging system that enables them to look inside of rocks and determine what they are made of, providing a molecular map.

UCLA paleobiologist J. William Schopf and colleagues have substantiated the biological origin of the earliest known cellular fossils, which are 3.5 billion years old. The research is published in the March 7 issue of the journal Nature.Schopf and a team of scientists at the University of Alabama, Birmingham have devised a new technique using a unique laser-Raman imaging system that enables them to look inside of rocks and determine what they are made of, providing a molecular map.

“This new technique is a tremendous breakthrough, and is something we have sought for 25 years,” Schopf said. “Because Raman spectroscopy is non-intrusive, non-destructive and particularly sensitive to the distinctive carbon signal of organic matter of living systems, it is an ideal technique for studies of ancient microscopic fossils. Raman imagery can show a one-to-one correlation between cell shape and chemistry, and prove whether fossils are biological.”

Schopf and his colleagues applied the new technique to ancient fossil microbe-like objects, including the oldest specimens reported from the geological record.

“There is no question at all that we have substantiated the biological origin of the oldest fossils now known,” Schopf said. “We have established that the ancient specimens are made of organic matter just like living microbes, and no non-biological organic matter is known from the geological record. In science, facts always prevail, and the facts here are quite clear.”

In addition to being a paleobiologist, Schopf is also a geologist, microbiologist and organic geochemist. Director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life, Schopf was awarded the 2000 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science for his book, “Cradle of Life: The Discovery of Earth’s Earliest Fossils” (Princeton University Press). The annual award is presented for “outstanding contributions” to the literature of science.

As an honors student at Oberlin College in Ohio in the 1960s, Schopf learned in great detail about the most recent 500 million years of the planet's history. But geologic time covers more than 4.5 billion years, and Schopf's textbooks and professors taught virtually nothing about the Earth's first four billion years. The reason this period was neglected, Schopf learned, was that nobody knew much about it. He vowed to fill that black hole of knowledge, and he explained in “Cradle of Life” how he and other scientists succeeded in doing so.

He is editor of “Earth's Earliest Biosphere” and “The Proterozoic Biosphere: A Multidisciplinary Study,” companion books that provide the most comprehensive knowledge of more than 4 billion years of the Earth's history, from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago to events half a billion years ago.

Schopf’s co-authors on the Nature paper are UCLA graduate student Andrew Czaja, who conducts his research in Schopf’s laboratory, and University of Alabama, Birmingham physics professors David Agresti, Anatoliy Kudryavtsev and Thomas Wdowiak.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Los Angeles. "UCLA Scientists, Colleagues Substantiate Biological Origin Of Earliest Fossils." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020313080230.htm>.
University Of California - Los Angeles. (2002, March 14). UCLA Scientists, Colleagues Substantiate Biological Origin Of Earliest Fossils. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020313080230.htm
University Of California - Los Angeles. "UCLA Scientists, Colleagues Substantiate Biological Origin Of Earliest Fossils." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020313080230.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

AP (July 24, 2014) The U.S. Mint has re-designed the John F. Kennedy half dollar coin to better match the former president's likeness. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins