Alga-Like Fossils from the Early Precambrian of South Africa

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Science  28 Apr 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3774, pp. 508-512
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3774.508


Micropaleontological studies of carbonaceouis chert from the Fig Tree Series of South Africa (> 3.1 x 109 years old) revealed the presence of spheroidal microfossils, here designated Archaeosphaeroides barbertonensis, interpreted as probably representing the remnants of unicellular alga-like organisms. The presumed photosynthetic nature of these primitive microorganisms seems corroborated by organic geochemical and carbon isotopic studies of the Fig Tree organic matter, and is consistent with the geologically and mineralogically indicated Early Precambrian environment. These alga-like spheroids, together with a bacterium-like organism previously described from the Fig Tree chert, are the oldest fossil orgisms now known.