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The boring billion, a slingshot for complex life of earth


Mukherjee, I and Large, RR and Corkrey, R and Danyushevsky, LV, The boring billion, a slingshot for complex life of earth, Scientific Reports, 8, (1) Article 4432. ISSN 2045-2322 (2018) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-018-22695-x


The period 1800 to 800 Ma ("Boring Billion") is believed to mark a delay in the evolution of complex life, primarily due to low levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. Earlier studies highlight the remarkably flat C, Cr isotopes and low trace element trends during the so-called stasis, caused by prolonged nutrient, climatic, atmospheric and tectonic stability. In contrast, we suggest a first-order variability of bio-essential trace element availability in the oceans by combining systematic sampling of the Proterozoic rock record with sensitive geochemical analyses of marine pyrite by LA-ICP-MS technique. We also recall that several critical biological evolutionary events, such as the appearance of eukaryotes, origin of multicellularity & sexual reproduction, and the first major diversification of eukaryotes (crown group) occurred during this period. Therefore, it appears possible that the period of low nutrient trace elements (18001400 Ma) caused evolutionary pressures which became an essential trigger for promoting biological innovations in the eukaryotic domain. Later periods of stress-free conditions, with relatively high nutrient trace element concentration, facilitated diversification. We propose that the "Boring Billion" was a period of sequential stepwise evolution and diversification of complex eukaryotes, triggering evolutionary pathways that made possible the later rise of micro-metazoans and their macroscopic counterparts.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Boring Billion
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geochemistry
Research Field:Exploration geochemistry
Objective Division:Mineral Resources (Excl. Energy Resources)
Objective Group:Other mineral resources (excl. energy resources)
Objective Field:Other mineral resources (excl. energy resources) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Mukherjee, I (Dr Indrani Mukherjee)
UTAS Author:Large, RR (Professor Ross Large)
UTAS Author:Corkrey, R (Dr Ross Corkrey)
UTAS Author:Danyushevsky, LV (Professor Leonid Danyushevsky)
ID Code:125749
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:28
Deposited By:Earth Sciences
Deposited On:2018-05-03
Last Modified:2019-03-14
Downloads:86 View Download Statistics

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