samzenpus from the we-would-have-started-sooner-but dept.
esocid writes "Scientists from around the world have reconstructed changes in Earth's ancient ocean chemistry during a broad sweep of geological time, from about 2.5 to 0.5 billion years ago. They have discovered that a deficiency of oxygen and the heavy metal molybdenum in the ancient deep ocean may have delayed the evolution of animal life on Earth for nearly 2 billion years. Bacteria cannot fix nitrogen efficiently when they are deprived of molybdenum. And if bacteria can't fix nitrogen fast enough, then eukaryotes — a kind of organism that includes plants, pachyderms and people — are in trouble because eukaryotes cannot fix nitrogen themselves at all. Ariel Anbar, a co-author of the research of Arizona State University, stated that "eukaryotes depend on bacteria having an easy enough time fixing nitrogen that there's enough to go around. So if bacteria were struggling to get enough molybdenum, there probably wouldn't have been enough fixed nitrogen for eukaryotes to flourish.""
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