Field of Science

The Age of Cryptozoon – In Search of the “Hidden Life”

In the first edition of “On the Origin of Species” (1859) Darwin only briefly addresses the earliest known fossils, or better the lack thereof:

“If the theory [of evolution] be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Cambrian stratum was deposited, long periods elapsed . . . and the world swarmed with living creatures. [Yet] to the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these earliest periods . . . I can give no satisfactory answer.“

The supposed lack of fossils older than 500 to 1.000 million years was not only the result of the “imperfection of the geological column“, as Darwin argued, nor the yet incomplete geological survey of most areas. At the time nobody could really imagine how the earliest organisms on earth – and especially their petrified remains – would look like, so what to search for ?