Why Did It Take So Long For Complex Life To Evolve On Earth? Blame Oxygen.

November 2, 2014 10:48 AM

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Why Did It Take So Long For Complex Life To Evolve On Earth? Blame Oxygen.

Life seems to have started on Earth almost as soon as the surface cooled off enough to make it possible. However, complex animal life—everything from insects to fish to humans—took a lot longer to show up. Given that modern animals are a phenomenally diverse group that evolved relatively quickly, why were they so slow to get going?

The answer may be that animals are greedy: they need a lot of oxygen to grow big and complicated. Early Earth didn’t have much oxygen, but microbes changed the chemical content of the atmosphere over time from something alien and poisonous to us into the breathable air we have today. A new paper sho...

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