Sufficient oxygen for animal respiration 1,400 million years ago
How have environmental constraints influenced the timing of animal evolution? It is often argued that oxygen first increased to sufficient levels for animal respiration during the Neoproterozoic Eon, 1,000 million to 542 million years ago, thus explaining the timing of animal evolution. We report geochemical evidence for deep-water oxygenation below an ancient oxygen minimum zone 1,400 million years ago. Oceanographic modeling constrains atmospheric oxygen to a minimum of ∼4% of today's values, sufficient oxygen to have fueled early-evolved animal clades. Therefore, we suggest that there was sufficient atmospheric oxygen for animals long before the evolution of animals themselves, and that rising levels of Neoproterozoic oxygen did not contribute to the relatively late appearance of animal life on Earth.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
- Pub Date:
- February 2016