Shortcut Navigation:
Oldest fossil

The oldest fossil

The oldest fossil?

  • Exhibition Text

    • This 3.5-billion-year-old black chert from the Warrawoona Group of Western Australia contains microscopic forms believed by some scientists to be fossil bacteria. If these are actually fossils, they are the oldest-known examples of life. The microfossils resemble modern light-sensitive bacteria, and the rocks in which they are found formed near the surface of a shallow sea. It is thus likely that organisms employing photosynthesis — the use of sunlight for food and energy — were providing oxygen for an evolving atmosphere. 

      Provided by Prof. Roger Buick, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

      Show more
  • For Educators

    • Topic: Paleontology

      Subtopic: Micropaleontology

      Keywords: Bacteria, Fossils, Micropaleontology, Photosynthesis, Prokaryotes

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions