Evolution is a way of life and living things regularly evolve and change to adapt to the changing environment. However, having said that there are some things which never change even after 2 billion years.
An international team of researchers have unearthed a deep sea microorganism that has not evolved in at least two billion years, nearly half the age of the planet. Researchers were quick to point out the fact that it provides ironically the best proof for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, said lead researcher J. William Schopf. The findings were published in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor of earth, planetary and space sciences at the University of California in Los Angeles, Schopf explains, “If evolution is as we understand it, organisms adapt to a changing environment. But if you take away any changes then there should be no evolution.”
Schopf added that he was right from his college days some 50 years ago looking for a permanent, durable environment which could provide credence to the theory that absence of evolution will lead to equal absence of changes.
The research team found living specimens of sulfur eating bacteria off the coast of Western Australia in the muddy sediments on the ocean floor. Needless to say there is no oxygen or light. Neither are there any waves to disturb the sediments.
Using the latest diagnostic technology researchers were able to compare the microbes with a set of fossils preserved in rocks found in Western Australia’s coastal waters that date back 2.3 billion years ago. This was also a time when there was a remarkable spike in oxygen levels; this produced an increase in oxygen-containing sulfate and nitrate compounds that sunk to the bottom of the ocean. They provided the “food” that allowed these bacteria to thrive and multiply.
They also match up exactly with fossils from 1.8 billion years ago found in the same area.
Charles Darwin explained how species changed overtime in response to a change in environment. The latest discovery fits in well with Darwin’s theory since it explains how organisms do not change or evolve if there is no change in the environment.