Life pioneers

Palaeontology is the science that studies the ancient living beings, their origin and evolution. This study requires the examination of the animal and vegetal remains that lived in the past and that we find today as fossils inside sedimentary rocks. Primordial organisms had very simple and small shapes, so they could not turn into fossil remains. The most ancient fossils to have been found so far date back to approximately 3 billion years ago. How have the first living organisms originated? Before the appearance of life, the Earth’s landscape was dominated by active volcanoes, a grey, lifeless ocean and a very turbulent atmosphere. The ocean received organic substances from the mainland, the atmosphere and the fall of meteorites and comets. And the ocean is the place in which such substances as water, carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia chemically reacted, producing sugars, amino-acids and fats. These molecules are the raw material required for the formation of proteins and nucleic acids that are the basic compounds of any living organism.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

  • life

    Photosynthesis in action

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    life

    Interview with Maurizio Casiraghi

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    ecosystems

    Fred Pierce on agriculture and its impacts

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  • ecosystems

    Beech forest

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    ecosystems

    Deforestation

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    ecosystems

    Deforestation 2

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  • ecosystems

    Deforestation in the Amazon

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    ecosystems

    Forest

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    ecosystems

    Medicines from the forest

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  • life

    Photosynthesis in action

    Look

    life

    Interview with Maurizio Casiraghi

    Look
  • ecosystems

    Fred Pierce on agriculture and its impacts

    Look

    ecosystems

    Beech forest

    Look
  • ecosystems

    Deforestation

    Look

    ecosystems

    Deforestation 2

    Look
  • life

    Photosynthesis in action

    Look
  • life

    Interview with Maurizio Casiraghi

    Look
  • ecosystems

    Fred Pierce on agriculture and its impacts

    Look

Facts

  • 16 May 2011

    A heavenly garden

    In Cornwall huge sphere greenhouses were built...

    23 February 2012

    CO2 “eating” trees

    If a tree “eats” CO2 and produces oxygen it is easy to understand the importance it has in reducing the…

  • 16 May 2011

    Energy from palm trees

    Oils that are obtained from palm trees can be used as alternatives to fossil fuels and their use is about…

    17 May 2011

    Resin from tree bark

    Resin naturally forms underneath the bark of ...

  • 3 April 2012

    The biggest tree

    The tallest tree in the world is called Hyperion...

    13 May 2011

    The Christmas tree tradition

    People tell that in Germany, at Christmas Eve, Saint Boniface cut an oak and in that place...

  • 16 May 2011

    A heavenly garden

    In Cornwall huge sphere greenhouses were built...

  • 23 February 2012

    CO2 “eating” trees

    If a tree “eats” CO2 and produces oxygen it is easy to understand the importance it has in reducing the…

  • 16 May 2011

    Energy from palm trees

    Oils that are obtained from palm trees can be used as alternatives to fossil fuels and their use is about…