Monday, February 25, 2013

Hunting Fertilizer to Find Hints of Early Life

Justin Drummond and Mariana de Souza Carvalho, students of Pufahl and co-supervisor Claudio Porto, in the field looking at economic phosphorite.
 
  

In Brazil, a search for fertilizer fodder is also turning into a hunt for ancient life.

Scientists at Nova Scotia-based Acadia University are working with MbAC Fertilizer Corp. to help the Brazilian company find and analyze phosphate deposits — the basis for fertilizer — in a small mining town in central Brazil.

At the same time, the project researchers seek to understand how the tiny plants that deposited the phosphorous helped drive ocean evolution, particularly in the period from 700 million to 740 million years ago — just as multicellular life began evolving on Earth.

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