Stromatolites: The Oldest Fossil

Stromatolites (derived from the Greek word for "layered rock") are the fossilized remnants of an ancient reef formed by microorganisms.

Three Rounded stromatolite fossils on a hand, the fossils kind of look like groups of tan outie belly buttons.

The characteristic pattern on stromatolites is from sedimentary rock settling on said microorganisms. Stromatolites are the oldest known macrofossil, dating back over 3 Billion years! Making up 80% of the Earth's known fossil history, stromatolites are hugely important.

three rectangular stromatolites lined up on a hand, they are brown rock with kind of spiral-shaped grooves

It is entirely possible that a group of photosynthetic cyanobacteria (one of the organisms responsible for forming stromatolites) produced the oxygen present in the Earths atmosphere. That oxygen made it possible for higher life forms (plants, animals, even humans!) to develop. 

Kira Clayton
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