Anoxia pp 615-630 | Cite as

The Relevance of Anoxic and Agglutinated Benthic Foraminifera to the Possible Archean Evolution of Eukaryotes

  • Wladyslaw Altermann
  • Alexander Volker Altenbach
  • Carola Leiter
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 21)


The history of the Earth, its lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere is closely interlinked in many disciplines (geology, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, and geobiology or paleobiology). This relationship is particularly complicated for the Precambrian constituting c. 90% of this history. When stepping backward in time, the history is increasingly obliterated by alteration processes connected to plate tectonics, metamorphism, diagenesis, biodegradation and taphonomy, and simply by increasing coverage by younger rocks. The biggest problems in deciphering this history are imposed by the often diametrically controversial interpretation of lithological, biological, and geochemical signatures preserved from these times, but especially from the Precambrian far past, the Archean (4.6–2.5 billion years ago). The most intriguing problems in our understanding of the earliest c. 60% of the Earth’s history are: the geochemistry of the primordial oceans and atmosphere, their pH and oxidation state, and mineralization processes, e.g., the origin of banded iron formations; periods of global glaciations (Snowball Earth scenarios); and the appearance and early evolution of life, including photosynthesis, cyanobacteria, prokaryotes, and eukaryotes. A comprehensive overview of these problems and the discussed solutions can be gained from the series of state-of-the-art articles treating the entire Precambrian period, in Eriksson et al. (2004). Moreover, an all-embracing view on the close relationships of mineralogy and biology and the general evolution of the Earth and the lithosphere and biosphere can be detracted from Hazen et al. (2008). The present contribution is partly based on these discussions, perhaps not familiar to a wide audience of microbiologists.


Anaerobic Ammonia Oxidation Black Shale Benthic Foraminifera Lower Cambrian Banded Iron Formation 
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.



We are grateful to Jochen Brocks and two anonymous reviewers for comments and critical assessment of an earlier version of our manuscript. Funding by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Al 331/7 and Al 331/14) for our research on modern Foraminifera in anoxic environments is gratefully acknowledged. WA is grateful for support by the University of Pretoria (RDP) and by the NRF.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.  2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wladyslaw Altermann
    • 1
  • Alexander Volker Altenbach
    • 2
    • 3
  • Carola Leiter
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.GeoBioCenterLudwig-Maximilians-UniversityMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department for Earth and Environmental ScienceLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MunichMunichGermany

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