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Fossilised stromatolites

Fossilised stromatolites

C009/6458

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Credit

DIRK WIERSMA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DIRK WIERSMA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Fossilised stromatolites. Stromatolites are mineralised microbial communities formed from microorganisms, especially blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). Over an extended period of time (often thousands of years) the algae trap detritus and sediment, forming large, living rafts known as microbial mats. The secretion of calcium carbonate by the algae causes the mats to mineralise, forming the rock-like structures seen here. Stromatolites are known as living fossils, because the process of mat formation and mineralisation continues today.

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