STROMATOLITES were the "Breath of Life" on earth, producing oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon.
Named from the Greek strōma, meaning mattress, and lithos, meaning rock, they are layered accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the trapping, binding and cementation of sedimentary grains by microorganisms, especially cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae.
Stromatolites provide some of the most ancient records of life on Earth.
Stromatolites were much more abundant on the planet in Precambrian times. One genus of stromatolite very common in the geologic record is Collenia.
The earliest stromatolite of confirmed microbial origin dates to 2.724 billion years ago.
A recent discovery provides strong evidence of microbial stromatolites extending as far back as 3.450 billion years ago.
Stromatolites are a major constituent of the fossil record for about the first 3.5 billion years of life on earth, peaking about 1.25 billion years ago. They subsequently declined in abundance and diversity, which, by the start of the Cambrian, had fallen to 20% of their peak.
The most widely-supported explanation is that stromatolite builders fell victims to grazing creatures, demonstrating that sufficiently complex organisms were common over 1 billion years ago.
It is incredible to think that these structures survived as a fossil for 3 billion years !!