18-Jul-87 20:37 MST Sb: WP 07/06 SCIENCE NOTEBOOK Ancient Organisms Found An ancient vers

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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 California-Los Angeles. 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, that early." 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

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