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Oxygen content in deep sea surged 600m years ago: Study

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-02-18 21:20

NANJING -- A recent study revealed that the deep-sea oxygen content surged 600 million years ago, which laid the foundation for the emergence of multicellular organisms.

Paleontologists at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences cooperated with researchers from the United States and France and reported the discovery which was published in the journal Geology.

Oxygen is essential for the survival of life. There is enough oxygen in today's oceans to meet the needs of plants and animals, but this was not always the case, according to Wang Wei, a researcher with the institute.

It is generally believed that modern oceans began to form 450 million years ago. Before that, the deep-sea environment cycled between oxidation and hypoxia, said Wang, who is also the leader of the research project.

The research team studied deep-sea core samples dating back 600 million years ago and found the oxygen content increased significantly during the period due to large-scale oxidation, making the period a key point in the evolution of life on Earth.

The conclusion was also proved by the discovery of fossils containing multicellular organisms, Wang added.

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