SATURDAY, 16 APRIL 2011
These findings, reported in the journal Nature, suggest that early Eukaryotes were capable of diversifying in non-marine habitats, not just in marine settings as has generally been assumed . This may have been possible because of the rich and heterogenous conditions that freshwater habitats create, with varying chemical environments and wet-dry cycles promoting speciation. The findings further suggest that some of the key events in the evolution of complex multicellular life may have occurred in terrestrial environments. This could include the evolution of the nucleus, cellular organelles that allow photosynthesis, and even sex.
500 million years after the emergence of these organisms, simple vegetation would colonise the Earth. In turn ferns, conifers and flowering plants would evolve and create the plant diversity we know today.
Written by Robert Jones