A sudden explosion of algae which occurred 650 million years ago was the catalyst for how the first animals appeared on earth, according to the results of a study led by Australian researchers.
In a statement released on Thursday, Associate Professor Jochen Brocks from the Australian National University (ANU) said his team "crushed" ancient sedimentary rocks into a fine powder in order to closely analyze their contents.
Brocks said that the researchers were able to backdate traces of organisms as far back as 650 million years ago.
"We crushed these rocks to powder and extracted molecules of ancient organisms from them," Brocks said.
"These molecules tell us that it really became interesting 650 million years ago. It was a revolution of ecosystems, it was the rise of algae."
He said the timeline shows that the algal bloom formed after a 50 million year-long ice age; glaciers and ice formations "ground entire mountain ranges to powder" in a development which released nutrients into oceans.