The Pre-Phanerozoic Fossil Record

  • S. M. Awramik
Part of the Dahlem Workshop Report book series (DAHLEM, volume 3)


The pre-Phanerozoic fossil record is dominated by stromatolites and microfossils. The most ancient traces of life that are now confidently recognized are the stromatolites and filamentous microfossils from the ~3500 Ma-old Warrawoona rocks in Western Australia. Younger Archean (up to 2500 Ma-old) stromatolites, though rare, indicate that the benthic microbial ecosystem was well established. It is not known whether the Archean microbes that built the stromatolites or may have inhabited the water column were oxygen-releasing photoautotrophs. The fossil record becomes conspicuous during the Proterozoic (2500 to 570 Ma ago). Stromatolites, some with well preserved cyanobacterial-like microfossils are plentiful, and the variety of microfossils found in rocks from different sedimentary environments suggest a considerable diversity of microbial ecosystems. Phytoplankton represented by acritarchs apparently underwent a major radiation ~1400 Ma ago. Microfossils that have been interpreted as eukaryotes have been reported from a few Proterozoic sequences and are the subject of great debate. Centimeter-sized algal (eukaryote) remains have been found in rocks ~1300 Ma-old.


Carbonaceous Film North Pole Area Medium Grade Metamorphic Rock Microfossil Record Warrawoona Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Dr. S. Bernhard, Dahlem Konferenzen, Berlin 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Awramik
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Geological SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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