Cyanobacteria

Architects of the earliest microfossils, atmospheric oxygen, and plastids.

Community living long before man: fossil and living microbial mats and early life.

Entrez PubMed: "Microbial mats are layered communities of bacteria that form cohesive structures, some of which are preserved in sedimentary rocks as stromatolites. Certain rocks, approximately three and a half thousand million years old and representing the oldest known fossils, are interpreted to derive from microbial mats and to contain fossils of microorganisms. Modern microbial mats (such as the one described here from Matanzas, Cuba) and their fossil counterparts are of great interest in the interpretation of early life on Earth. Since examination of microbial mats and stromatolites increases our understanding of long-term stability and change, within the global environment, such structures should be protected wherever possible as natural science preserves. Furthermore, since they have existed virtually from the time of life's origin, microbial mats have developed exemplary mechanisms of local community persistence and may even play roles in the larger global environment that we do not understand."

Community living long before man: fossil and living microbial mats and early life. Margulis L, Lopez Baluja L, Awramik SM, Sagan D. Sci Total Environ. 1986;56:379-97.

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