New Theory: Earth’s Longer Days Kick-Started Oxygen Growth

Scientists have a new idea for how Earth got its oxygen: It’s because the planet slowed down and days got longer.

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This June 19, 2019 photo provided by NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary shows purple microbial mats in the Middle Island Sinkhole in Lake Huron, Mich. Small hills and “fingers” like this one in the mats are caused by gases like methane and hydrogen sulfide bubbling up beneath them. Feel like days are just getting longer? They are and it’s a good thing because we wouldn't have much to breathe if they weren’t, according to a new explanation for how Earth’s oxygen rich atmosphere may have developed because of Earth’s rotation slowing. Scientists provided evidence for this new hypothesis by lab testing gooey smelly purple bacteria from a deep sinkhole in Lake Huron. (Phil Hartmeyer/NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary via AP)
Image via AP Photo/Phil Hartmeyer

This article was republished here with permission from The Associated Press, however it is no longer available to read on Snopes.com.

Scientists have a new idea for how Earth got its oxygen: It’s because the planet slowed down and days got longer. A study published Monday proposes and puts to the test the theory that longer, continuous daylight kick-started weird bacteria into producing lots of oxygen, making most of life as we know it possible. They dredged up gooey purple bacteria from a deep sinkhole in Lake Huron and tinkered with how much light it got…

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