A team of scientists from Australia, Japan and the United States discovered what they called "the oldest flowers in the world." We are talking about the brightly colored remains of microorganisms that lived about a billion years ago and in the soil looked like dark red, almost purple blotches in the mineral rock. And when extracted and processed, they turned out to be bright pink, despite the fact that at the molecular level they are close to the pigment chlorophyll.
The vibrant colors of such ancient creatures are a direct indication for new research. What caused the riot of colors, what role did these pigments play in the life of microbes a billion years ago? Science generally has very little data on the living nature of the Earth older than 600 million years, when large creatures began to appear, the remains of which were able to survive and were studied. And ancient microbes that lived more than a billion years ago are a complete mystery.
Analysis of the found pigments showed that they belonged to tiny cyanobacteria, participated in the process of photosynthesis and served as a kind of limiting mechanism of evolution. More precisely, they illustrated a barrier that did not allow living beings to receive energy except from sunlight, and therefore limited their growth and the emergence of new creatures. But then, about 650 million years ago, there was a major shift.
Whole seas filled with cyanobacteria were emptied as a taller and more resilient life form, algae, appeared. They provided an explosive growth in the evolution of complex ecosystems on the planet, becoming an excellent food base for new creatures. And the old, pink pigments were replaced by green chlorophyll, which modernized the process of photosynthesis to the level of efficiency that we know today.