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Bacteria
Image courtesy of JPL/NASA

Pre-Cambrian Life

About 2.5 billion years ago (BYA) oxygen began to build up in the atmosphere. Life used this change to developed eukaryotic cells. These are cells which include a nucleus. Both heterotrophs (early animals) and autotrophs (early plants) began to use the new cells.

In cells with a nucleus respiration and photosynthesis are better, so the production of oxygen in the environment of the early Earth speeded up. This made it possible for new organisms which depended on oxygen for survival to develop.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA