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MemberSeptember 25, 2021 at 2:16 pm
The drop stones in the tropical rocks were among the first clues that something strange once happened to planet Earth.
Drop stones are rocks that land on the seabed, sometimes with so much force that the sediment deforms. But there shouldn’t have been any drop stones in these rocks. Glaciers are the most usual source; ice sheet bellies collect rocks like ticks, then shed them when they put to sea. But the drop stone–bearing rocks were formed under what were intermittently hot tropical waters, evident from the bands of limestone interspersed with them. Surely there couldn’t have been glaciers in the tropics, right? Right?
In 1989, California Institute of Technology geologist Joe Kirschvink took a look at this and other evidence that had been kicking around for a few decades and minted a new hypothesis: snowball Earth. The idea is that our planet was once wholly encased in ice up to a kilometer thick around 650–700 million years ago. Surface temperatures everywhere were well below zero, and life, in whatever simple form it then took, had to cope.
And the evidence suggests this catastrophe happened around that time not once, but twice. The first entombment seems to have lasted some 58 million years—which, I feel obligated to point out, is over 24 times as long as T. rexes existed (a mere 2.4 million years). The second snowball, 10 million years later, lasted another 5–15 million years. Although partial glaciations would creep into the temperate zone on a regular schedule hundreds of million of years later in close proximity to our own time, as far as we know, ice would never again consume the Earth.
A study of new Chinese fossils published this January adds an interesting detail: cave fungi may have helped drag the planet out of the second snowball. If true, it would also be noteworthy because the earliest agreed-on terrestrial fungal fossils date from over 200 million years later.
If you accept that the planet was frozen solid, it follows that once all that heavy ice melted, the unburdened land rebounded and bathed in fresh air. Rainwater falling on new naked rock weathered the surface but also seeped into cracks, creating caves.
It is inside what they claim are the remains of these cavities in the Ediacaran Doushantuo rock layers of China that scientists reported in Nature Communications in January they have found both cave formations and pyrite-fossilized filaments that look to them—and I agree—a heck of a lot like fungi.
MemberSeptember 25, 2021 at 4:44 pm
Which research is stating it, Kindly state the source.