Life on Earth May Have Begun 1 Billion Years Earlier Than Thought, Scientists Say

Scientists find evidence life may have blossomed 3.2 billion years ago.

— -- The earliest life forms may have blossomed on Earth 1 billion years earlier than previously thought.

Roger Buick, a University of Washington professor and co-author of the article that was published Monday in the journal Nature, said the rock samples his team analyzed showed that there was plentiful nitrogen 3.2 billion years ago to sustain the most basic life forms, including bacteria, viruses and other organisms.

While life can exist without oxygen, nitrogen is an essential building block for genes.

"People always had the idea that the really ancient biosphere was just tenuously clinging on to this inhospitable planet, and it wasn't until the emergence of nitrogen fixation that suddenly the biosphere become large and robust and diverse," Buick told UW Today.

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