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Early Invert. Life


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I am looking for a good source of info on early invert. life. i've read Gould's Burgess Shale, but it really does not get into much of the biology of the organisms out there. Anyone got any sources or ideas about these guys? I have a fascination with marine corals and the argument of what actually constitutes an organsim in these (ie, is it the whole colony or just the polyps?). Thanks for any ideas.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Early invertebrate life:


Can I suggest the following book: Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution by E.N.K. Clarkson. It should be available from various online bookstores (Amazon, B&N etc). Most books on palaentology seem to focus mostly on structure, and this book is no exception. It does contain some information on biology as well.

I would probably get a book on living invertebrates as well, to complement the paleontology textbook.

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Thanks Morten.


I will need to check it out. I've read The Burgess Shale by Gould, and it was interesting, but not a greatd deal of scientific info in it, more of a history of the site and evolution of the theories around the organisms found there.


As for current info, most of mine has been based on the marine ornamental trade (Reef tanks) because that is what I tend to focus on and that realm has the most acessable books (Finding and $$$).

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I would like to know any source of info paleomicrobiology... I barely got that out. That is study of

ancient microbes and how they evolved.... :D





I really have not seen to much info on that. I'm sure you could find some journal articles, but I do not know of any texts. I think most of the inferences on ancient microbes is through study of current microbes and their DNA. There just is not that much that fossilizes of a single cell organism with no cruchy parts... :D


There are some deposital evidence (Stomalites) but I do not think that the actual fossil is the organism, but just calcarious secretions.

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Here is a rather nice review that summarize both geological and paleontological evidence, as well as points out areas where scientists have not reached a consensus. It also provides some speculation that might provide fuel for further research.

The habitat and nature of early life


Some other articles that goes more into detail:


Molecular fossils:

Archean Molecular Fossils and the Early Rise of Eukaryotes

Isotopic evidence for microbial sulphate reduction in the early Archaean era



Geochemistry and climate

Earth's Early Atmosphere


Microfossils and stromatolites:

Photosynthetic microbial mats in the 3,416-Myr-old ocean

Filamentous microfossils in a 3,235-million-year-old volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit

Stromatolites 3,400-3,500 Myr old from the North Pole area, Western Australia

Microfossils from the Neoarchean Campbell Group, Griqualand West Sequence of the Transvaal Supergroup, and their paleoenvironmental and evolutionary implications. (abstract)



Critique of microfossils

Self-Assembled Silica-Carbonate Structures and Detection of Ancient Microfossils

Microfossil-like objects from the Archaean of Greenland: a cautionary note

Earth's oldest (approximately 3.5 Ga) fossils and the 'Early Eden hypothesis': questioning the evidence. (Abstract only)


Phylogenetic studies and classification

Protein Phylogenies and Signature Sequences: A Reappraisal of Evolutionary Relationships among Archaebacteria, Eubacteria, and Eukaryotes

Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya.


When looking at ancient microbiology, it doesn't hurt to know a bit about the present microbiology:

The Prokaryotes




This is just a few sources on microbial fossils and reconstruction of the evolution of prokaryotes.


Its no problem in digging up more references to work in this area. A good place to start searching is:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=PubMed and using search words like: Archean, Proterozoic, prokaryote phylogeny, prokaryote evolution, stromatolites, microfossils

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