Jun 25, 2019 | Updated: 07:32 AM EDT

Was Darwin Wrong? Newly Discovered Sulfur Bacteria Remains Unevolved for 2 Billion Years

Feb 16, 2015 02:44 PM EST


A recent study published in the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences reports on a deep-sea organism that appears not to have evolved for more than 2 billion years. This is the longest lack of evolution ever reported. The authors, however, believe that this lack of evolution completely fits in with Darwin's theory of evolution.

Using modern cutting-edge technology, scientists studied 1.8 billion years old sulfur bacteria preserved in the rock of Western Australia's coastal waters and compared them with bacteria from the same region which are 2.3 billion years old. To their surprise, they found that each set of these bacteria are indistinguishable from the modern sulfur bacteria.

"It looks astounding that life has not evolved for much more than 2 billion years -- practically half the historical past of the Earth," said J. William Schopf, lead author of the paper and a UCLA Professor of Earth, Planetary and Room Sciences. He went on to add that "Given that evolution is a fact, this lack of evolution needs to be explained."

According to Professor Schopf, "the rule of biology is not to evolve unless physical or biological environment changes." Given that these parameters have remained constant for these microorganisms for over 3 billion years, it is not a surprise that they have not evolved.

Furthermore, the fossils that were analyzed date back to a time in earth's history called the 'Great Oxidation Event'. This event occurred between 2.2 and 2.4 billion years ago and produced a significant increase in sulfur and nitrate levels. This enabled the sulfur bacteria to thrive and multiply in their environment.

Schopf further added, "If they were in an environment that did not change but they nevertheless evolved, that would have shown that our understanding of Darwinian evolution was seriously flawed." Since this is not the case, the discovery of the longest lack of evolution actually supports Darwin's theory even more.


Sulfur-cycling fossil bacteria from the 1.8-Ga Duck Creek Formation provide promising evidence of evolution's null hypothesis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceswww.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1419241112


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