Author(s): Altermann W, Schopf JW, Altermann W, Schopf JW
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Abstract The oldest filament- and colonial coccoid-containing microbial fossil assemblage now known is described here from drill core samples of stromatolitic cherty limestones of the Neoarchean, approximately 2600-Ma-old Campbell Group (Ghaap Plateau Dolomite, Lime Acres Member) obtained at Lime Acres, northern Cape Province, South Africa. The assemblage is biologically diverse, including entophysalidacean (Eoentophysalis sp.), probable chroococcacean (unnamed colonial coccoids), and oscillatoriacean cyanobacteria (Eomycetopsis cf. filiformis, and Siphonophycus transvaalensis), as well as filamentous fossil bacteria (Archaeotrichion sp.); filamentous possible microfossils (unnamed hematitic filaments) also occur. The Campbell Group microorganisms contributed to the formation of stratiform and domical to columnar stromatolitic reefs in shallow subtidal to intertidal environments of the Transvaal intracratonic sea. Although only moderately to poorly preserved, they provide new evidence regarding the paleoenvironmental setting of the Campbell Group sediments, extend the known time-range of entophysalidacean cyanobacteria by more than 400 million years, substantiate the antiquity and role in stromatolite formation of Archean oscillatoriacean cyanobacteria, and document the exceedingly slow (hypobradytelic) evolutionary rate characteristic of this early evolving prokaryotic lineage.
This article was published in Precambrian Res
and referenced in Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach