|(i) Life emerges; epoch of geochemistry begins. (ii) Anoxygenic photosynthesis: start of energy epoch 2, sunlight. (iii) Emergence of cyanobacteria. (iv) Great Oxidation Event: energy epoch 3, oxygen. (v) Probable eukaryotic fossils appear. (vi) Fossils of red algae appear. (vii) Start of energy epoch 4, flesh. (viii) Vascular plants colonize land; fire appears on Earth. Finally, the burning logs indicate the start of energy epoch 5, fire. The dates of (i)–(iii) are highly uncertain. For (i) I have taken the earliest date for which there is evidence consistent with life20. For (ii) I have taken the earliest date for which there is evidence consistent with photosynthesis18,19,21. For (iii), I have marked the date currently supported by fossil evidence for the presence of cyanobacteria (see main text, ‘Cyanobacteria and the oxygenation of the air’). Tick marks represent intervals of 25 million years. Figure drawn by F. Zsolnai.|
Monday, 15 May 2017
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Massive stars, which terminate their evolution in a cataclysmic explosion called a type-II supernova, are the nuclear engines of galactic nucleosynthesis. Among the elemental species known to be produced in these stars, the radioisotope 60Fe stands out: This radioisotope has no natural, terrestrial production mechanisms; thus, a detection of 60Fe atoms within terrestrial reservoirs is proof for the direct deposition of supernova material within our solar system. We report, in this work, the direct detection of live 60Fe atoms in biologically produced nanocrystals of magnetite, which we selectively extracted from two Pacific Ocean sediment cores. We find that the arrival of supernova material on Earth coincides with the lower Pleistocene boundary (2.7 Ma) and that it terminates around 1.7 Ma (details).