Scientists have recently discovered fossils of what look like red algae in Chitrakoot, India, which suggest that multicellular life arose several hundred million years earlier than previously believed.
Life can be traced as
far back as 3.7 billion years or earlier, preserved in "mats" of
fossilized single-celled microbes, but it took much longer for
multicellular forms of life to emerge. Fossils appear to have
been fairly common, beginning around 540 million years ago.
The new fossils, discovered by
scientists from the Swedish Museum of Natural History, provide
a clearer window into when advanced life began to form.
Two types of fossils were found: one with a structure like
thread, and the other with a more fleshy form. They are 400
million years older than the previously earliest known examples
of red algae, making them the oldest plant-like fossils by a