Evolution and Plants of the Past by Harlan P. Banks (auth.)

By Harlan P. Banks (auth.)

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Sulfate-reducing bacteria reduce S32 in preference to S34 • Thus if the sulfides in the shale are rich in S32 as compared to a standard, nonbiological source, there is evidence that they are of biological origin. In the case of the Nonesuch formation the results are still equivocal but favor organisms as the source of the compounds. Apparently, then, still another occurrence of Precambrian plants has been located. The Soudan formation in northeastern Minnesota is older than the Nonesuch. 7 and 3 billion years, and it is thought to be the oldest carbon-rich deposit in North America, at the present writing.

New physical, chemical, and microscopical techniques have aided the study of fossils, and space research and chemical experiments on the origin of life have led many investigators to accept such discoveries. The Earliest Evidence The Fig Tree shale in South Africa consists in part of siliceous rock known as chert. Some chert is black due to its high content of carbonaceous matter. When Schopf and Barghoorn cut this into thin slices (see Chapter 1), they 33 found organisms similar to bacteria and blue-green algae.

B) Group of microspores freed from one microsporangium by maceration. (c) A single megaspore. (d) A single microspore. (From J. M. Pettitt, 1965. ) 94 Chapter 5 (Fig. 3-5). It might have rested in complete obscurity because of its strange unplantlike aspect had not Siegel and his co-workers been testing experimentally some of the postulates involved in the Berkner-Marshall hypothesis. Their experiments were designed to test the growth of various modern organisms under reducing (nonoxygen-containing) atmospheres that were rich in ammonia.

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