Aroundf 2.1 billion years ago, there existeed several multicellular organisms, that were likely one of the first forays into multicellularity, they coincided with a brief moment of increased oxygen levels and went extinct after the levels dropped, they do not have any modern-day descendants.

Francevillian biota

Francevillian biota fossils

The Francevillian biota (also known as Gabon macrofossils or Gabonionta) is a group of 2.1-billion-year-old Palaeoproterozoic, macroscopic organisms known from fossils found in Gabon in the Palaeoproterozoic Francevillian B Formation, a black shale province. The fossils are regarded as evidence of the earliest form of multicellular life. The fossils were discovered by an international team led by the Moroccan-French geologist Abderrazak El Albani, of the University of Poitiers, France. While the fossils have yet to be assigned to a formal taxonomic position, they have been informally and collectively referred to as the “Gabonionta” by the Natural History Museum Vienna in 2014.

Morphology

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10 thoughts on “Aroundf 2.1 billion years ago, there existeed several multicellular organisms, that were likely one of the first forays into multicellularity, they coincided with a brief moment of increased oxygen levels and went extinct after the levels dropped, they do not have any modern-day descendants.”

  1. Slate-Blue

    Poor things. Didn’t even have time to evolve into crabs.

  2. gertalives

    Fun fact: oxygen is pretty toxic stuff. Early on, when oxygen-producing organisms evolved and became abundant, they actually poisoned the atmosphere and killed off a *lot* of life on the planet by increasing oxygen levels. It took quite some time for life to evolve strategies to tolerate and ultimately exploit this newly available oxygen.

  3. Joe_Rogan_Bot

    Now consider this is likely the end result for 99% of all life in the universe. Just a short window of existence, and then poof, extinction.

    We lucked out that at least something survived this event. Imagine how many planets start and end with single cellulars because of a total extinction event.

    It’s also neat to speculate as to what they would have become. Their cellular structure is different than the organisms we evolved from.

  4. Amilo159

    Hmmm forbidden fossil ravioli

  5. NerdyGerdy

    As they have no descendants and are completely different than our line, these little guys are the closest thing to aliens we have found.

  6. Diet_Coke

    If we’re in a simulation, that was the tutorial level

  7. MieGorengGenocide

    Rip the first explorers

  8. rev_daydreamr

    Does this have any impact on the philosophical debate around the anthropic principle? I know there is some debate as to where is the great bottleneck for life. This would suggest that multicellular organisms evolving is not that rare, as we have at least two independent observations(albeit on the same planet, which somewhat weakens the argument). Wouldn’t that put a lower bound on the bottleneck?

  9. Fredasa

    Okay now THIS is interesting, right up my alley, and something I did not know, despite early life being one of my strong interests. Now I feel like David Attenborough hornswaggled me by not making mention of this either in his First Life or in the first episode of Life on Earth.

  10. capitalismisokiguess

    So multicellular life arose twice independently on Earth when oxygen levels were sufficient.

    This bodes very well for finding multicellular life on other worlds.

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