Where Animals Breathed Their First: Microbial Mats May Have Been an Early Source of Oxygen

By Strain, Daniel | Science News, June 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Where Animals Breathed Their First: Microbial Mats May Have Been an Early Source of Oxygen


Strain, Daniel, Science News


Animals living more than 550 million years ago could have survived inhospitable oceans by associating with dense mounds of cyanobacteria called microbial mats, an international team of researchers argues. Such clumps of oxygen-producing gunk may have supplied the first mobile animals with food to eat and air to breathe, the group reports online May 15 in Nature Geoscience.

Recent fossil finds show that wriggling animals first emerged at least 555 million years ago, when atmospheric oxygen concentrations were about one-tenth what they are today. Yet as creatures moved more, they needed more oxygen. So how early mobile critters, which probably resembled worms or slugs, eked out a living in these choked environments has been a big puzzle for paleontologists, says study coauthor Murray Gingras. "Biomats provided the oxygen that ironically enabled the animals to better exploit biomats as food," he says.

He got his first clue after drilling into a frozen pond in Alberta, Canada. The pond, almost entirely deprived of oxygen, hosted a small number of insect larvae surrounding a layer of photosynthesizing algae. "They were eating the biological material, and they were using it as a scuba tank at the same time," says Gingras, a paleontologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Alberta's frozen lakes don't look much like ancient oceans, however, so Gingras and his colleagues turned to supersalty lagoons in Venezuela. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Where Animals Breathed Their First: Microbial Mats May Have Been an Early Source of Oxygen
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.