Scientists say textbooks are wrong about how life began on Earth

Finding the origin of life on Earth has been a goal for scientists for decades. However, like anything, it’s always based on theories and possible evidence, which can often change and evolve as we learn about our world and the universe we are part of. According to a new study published in the journal Geobiology, the current textbook theories may be wrong.

That’s because, for decades, science textbooks have taught students that an influx of oxygen into the Earth’s oceans helped accelerate the development and evolution of complex life on Earth. However, this new study could completely disprove that theory, which means textbooks may be teaching students a false truth about how life on Earth began.

Up until now, that prevailing theory has been based on the idea that the Precambrian Avalon explosion – which is essentially the era when life began to evolve and become more complex between 685 to 800 million years ago – was based on a massive influx of oxygen, as I noted above. However, this new study seems to suggest that oxygen did not in fact control the development of the Earth.

deep ocean with light coming in
Life is believed to have begun in the ocean before expanded to land. Image source: donfiore / Adobe

Instead, there was likely less oxygen in the oceans at the time of the explosion than there was before or even after, the new study says. The study is based on evidence found in rock samples taken from the Omani mountain range in the Arabian peninsula. Scientists looked at the makeup of these ancient rock samples using geochemical mapping.

This revelation means that the current theories taught in school textbooks are most likely wrong. Scientists say that oxygen probably played some role in the evolution of life on Earth. Therefore, the only thing we seem to have wrong is how big of a part it played. Something that we will hopefully learn more about in the coming years of research.

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