500 Million-year-old Stromatolite Fossil

Posted on July 5, 2008  Comments (1)

VMNH scientists confirm discovery of 500 million-year-old fossil

Virginia Museum of Natural History scientists have confirmed that an approximately 500 million-year-old stromatolite was recently discovered at the Boxley Blue Ridge Quarry near Roanoke, Virginia. This is the first-ever intact stromatolite head found in Virginia, and is one of the largest complete “heads” in the world, at over 5 feet in diameter and weighing over 2 tons. Stromatolites are among the earliest known life forms, and are important in helping scientists understand more about environments that existed in the past.

A stromatolite is a mound produced in shallow water by mats of algae that trap mud and sand particles. Another mat grows on the trapped sediment layer and this traps another layer of sediment, growing gradually over time. Stromatolites can grow to heights of a meter or more. They are uncommon today but their fossils are among the earliest evidence for living things. The oldest stromatolites have been dated at 3.46 billion years old.

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One Response to “500 Million-year-old Stromatolite Fossil”

  1. Lobopodians from China a Few Million Years Ago » Curious Cat Science Blog
    March 2nd, 2011 @ 12:28 am

    The Cambrian explosion of life, about 540-490 million years ago, marked the beginning of complex life on earth…

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