18-Jul-87 20:37 MST
Sb: WP 07/06 SCIENCE NOTEBOOK
Ancient Organisms Found
An ancient version of what looks like pond scum was reported found in Western
Australia by J. William Schopf and Bonnie M. Packer of the University of
The tiny fossil organisms are among the oldest life forms ever found, dating
from 3.3 billion to 3.5 billion years old. The striking thing about the fossils
is that they appear to be from rather complex little organisms that used
photosynthesis and produced oxygen, the scientists said.
"I was elated and surprised at the apparent degree of their complexity,"
Schopf told one reporter. "I didn't think that evolution had occurred that fast,
Because Earth is only 4.5 billion years old, and it would have taken some
time for such complex things to evolve, the report lends more support to the
growing body of evidence suggesting that life arose quickly after the formation
of the planet. This, in turn, suggests that it was probablya rather easy matter
to get evolution going on Earth, and likely to have been easy in other planetary