So what are stromatolites?

They are rock like structures formed by microorganisms, such as cyanobacteria, aka blue green algae.

They are the oldest known macroscopic life form on Earth that left behind fossils.

Stromatolites in Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, Western Australia
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Up until the Cambrian explosion they were the only life form known.

There are many different kinds of ancient stromatolites, from up to 3.5 billion years ago - from which we only have fossils.

Fossil stromatolites mark the edges of a sea
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But there are also the modern ones that still live today. These are only able to live in places where there is no competition from higher organisms.

Consequently, many of them live in very, very salty water bodies where no other organisms are able to live.

There are a very few such places in the world where marine stromatolites live today - Mexico, Brazil, Bahamas, and Shark Bay in Western Australia.

These living fossils are similar to the life forms from billions of years ago and help us understand the life in these early days.

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