Scientists: Life on Earth is not caused by high oxygen levels

Scientists: Life on Earth is not caused by high oxygen levels

“We now have to rethink a lot of what we think we know, and textbooks need to be revised and rewritten,” says Assistant Professor Christian J. Byerum in the Department of Earth Sciences and Nature Management in a press release.

Among other things, the researchers analyzed rock samples from a mountain range in Oman in the Middle East, which were at the bottom of the sea when life began crowding out on land.

To the scientists’ surprise, the results showed that the oxygen level on Earth had not risen. The oxygen level was only a fifth or tenth of what it is today, twice the height of Mount Everest.

“Our measurements give a good average picture of what oxygen levels were like in the ocean at that time, and we note that there wasn’t a huge increase in the amount of oxygen when more advanced animal life began to develop and take over on land. In fact, it was a small decrease,” says Byrom.

He says the new findings contradict a 70-year-old assumption that higher oxygen is necessary for the evolution of more advanced life.

But if it wasn’t the extra oxygen that caused the explosion of life hundreds of millions of years ago, then what was?

Maybe it’s just the opposite, says Bjerrum.

“We know that animals and humans must be able to control the concentration of oxygen in order to keep stem cells in check so they can develop slowly and sustainably. If there is too much oxygen, the cells will develop and, in the worst case, develop haphazardly and perish. It is not at all inconceivable that this mechanism worked at that time.”

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He points out that the same phenomenon has been studied in cancer research using human and animal stem cells.

Researchers at Lund University have shown that a sufficiently low oxygen level is necessary to maintain control over cells until an organism decides that a cell must develop into, for example, a muscle cell.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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