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Alga-like forms in onverwacht series, South Africa: Oldest recognized lifelike forms on earth

Science

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Abstract

Spheroidal and cupshaped, carbonaceous alga-like bodies, as well as filamentous structures and amorphous carbonaceous matter occur in sedimentary rocks of the Onverwacht Series (Swaziland System) in South Africa. The Onverwacht sediments are older than 3.2 eons, and they are probably the oldest, little-altered sedimentary rocks on Earth. The basal Onverwacht sediments lie approximutely 10,000 meters stratigraphically below the Fig Tree sedimentary rocks, from which similar organic microstructures have been interpreted as alga-like micro-fossils. The Onverwacht spheroids and filaments are best preserved in black, carbon-rich cherts and siliceous argillites interlayered with thick sequences of lavas. These lifelike forms and the associated carbonaceous substances are probably biological in origin. If so, the origins of unicellular life on Earth are buried in older rocks now obliterated by igneous and metamorphic events.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Alga-like forms in onverwacht series, South Africa: Oldest recognized lifelike forms on earth
Series title:
Science
Volume
161
Issue:
3845
Year Published:
1968
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Science
First page:
1005
Last page:
1008