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Posted by2 months ago
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Paleontologists have identified a new genus and species of algae more than 500m years old. The ancient fossil — 541m years old — predates the origin of land plants, & interestingly the fossil is the first and oldest green algae from this era to be preserved in three dimensions.

104 comments
97% Upvoted
level 1
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level 1

I'm curious how they were able to age it. Do they use carbon dating or the strata that it was found in?

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If you know what rock formation the fossil is in, the rocks in most places have already been dated to some degree. Radiometric and relative age dates are most commonly used for stuff that old.

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Probably radiometric dating. Carbon dating isn't accurate above 50,000 years.

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· 2 mo. ago
MS | Chemical Engineering | Microstructures, Plastics

Carbon is only good to about 60 thousand years, but other radioisotopes in the strata work just fine.

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It is all about taking a scientific guess at the rock it is found in. You can take the rock from all the surrounding layers and you start breaking down the contents of the rocks. Molecules and elements will decay into other elements. If you break down the content of the rocks you can guess how long the solid layers have been sitting there based on the ratios of different radio active elements. It doesn't matter if any one specific layer lacks enough telltale signs of this radio-active decay, the layers above will be younger and the layers bellow will be older. The most well known application of this method is for carbon, which has a short half life compared to many of the other elements in the earth's crust.

Surprisingly the many of the layers found in the continental crusts around the world that can be accessed have already been cataloged and dated using this method. Today we know enough about the different layers that have been identified that the basic geologic histories can be created based on which layers are present, absent, or gone through a metamorphic change. Of course I am WAY over simplifying it, there is likely dozens of different scientific/geologic disciplines that can contributed to an making a scientific estimate of the age of a rock.

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It doesn’t explicitly say in the article but based on Uniformitarianism they would be able to age it based on what sedimentary layer it was found in. Otherwise they may use radiometric dating as well. I can’t conclusively say without reading the journal article this press release was based off.

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Did you say C dating because it’s a buzzword and you don’t really know what it means?

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They cut a cross section and counted the rings.

They asked it who was president when it was born.

They checked it's living room table for hard candies.

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· 2 mo. ago · edited 2 mo. ago

In case anyone ripping off opinions here wants to read the original paper first https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-022-01394-0

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Comment removed by moderator · 2 mo. ago
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Comment removed by moderator · 2 mo. ago
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Damn a whole new Genus? Isn't that massive news?

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Yeah, but why cover this when you can make people yell & hate each other?

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It's worth remembering that in paleontology, as opposed to extant biology, when you find a fossil, you usually assume you have a new genus unless you have good evidence that there are other closely related (and closely constrained in time and distance) specimens to compare to. There's just not enough specimens to assume otherwise!

Long story short, a family or larger group discovery would be a bigger deal, but at this age, the sheer quality of the fossil is the biggest wow factor, at least for me.

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How did they know it was green?

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· 2 mo. ago

Green algae is more a reference to the group of organisms it belongs to, not its actual colour. Similar to finding Brown bears fossils. We dont actually know if it was really brown but morphologically we can say it is a brown bear with certainty.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_algae

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Chlorophyll?

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Most likely a combination of morphology and if they were able to determine which type of chlorophylls were present

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[deleted]
· 2 mo. ago

The sludge which we all come from.

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