Gabon, the cradle of macroscopic life?
As we are indeed thus in the presence of the oldest macroscopic fossils discovered to date, the first thing to do is to protect the geological site, in order to avoid any pillaging, and to stop work in the still active quarry. Afterwards the studies will continue on the other numerous specimens which are waiting in the boxes brought from Gabon. ‘For my part,’ reveals our micro-palaeontologist, ‘I am looking for possible fossils in associated sediments, in other words in the rocks which surround these macrofossils. They will not necessarily teach us about the latter, but instead about the ecosystem in which these organisms lived.’
‘All this research on the evolution of life on Earth is genuine Sherlock Holmes work,’ confides Emmanuelle Javaux, ‘but it is fascinating to try to understand it: when did the various groups of organisms appear? In what conditions? How did they evolve? It is the whole question of the beginnings of life and Earth and its evolution. When I see in a microscope a cell which is over a billion years old, I say to myself that it is incredible and marvellous. We are coming nearer and nearer to an understanding of the first stages of life. I think it emerged naturally: we don’t need to wave a magic wand in this story.’