Microorganisms Three Billion Years Old from the Precambrian of South Africa

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Science  06 May 1966:
Vol. 152, Issue 3723, pp. 758-763
DOI: 10.1126/science.152.3723.758


A minute, bacterium-like, rod-shaped organism, Eobacterium isolatum, has been found organically and structurally preserved in black chert from the Fig Tree Series (3.1 x 109 years old) of South Africa. Filamentous organic structures of probable biological origin, and complex alkanes, which apparently contain small amounts of the isoprenoid hydrocarbons pristane and phytane, are also indigenous to this Early Precambrian sediment. These organic remnants comprise the oldest known evidence of biological organization in the geologic record.