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Paleoproterozoic Era
2500 - 1600 million years ago
Key events in the Paleoproterozoic
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An approximate timescale of key Paleoproterozoic events.
Axis scale: millions of years ago.

Paleoproterozoic Era ( /pæliˌprtərəˈzɪk-/;[1][2]) is the first of the three sub-divisions (eras) of the Proterozoic Eon spanning 2,500 to 1,600 million years ago (2.5–1.6 Ga). It was during this era that the continents first stabilized.

Paleontological evidence on the Earth's rotational rate gave 20 hour days ~1.8 billion years ago, implying 450 days in a year.[3]


Before the significant increase in atmospheric oxygen almost all life that existed was anaerobic, that is, the metabolism of life depended on a form of cellular respiration that did not require oxygen.

Free oxygen in large amounts is toxic to most anaerobic bacteria. It is widely believed that the majority of the anaerobic life on Earth died around this time. The only life that remained was either resistant to the oxidizing and poisonous effects of oxygen, or spent its life-cycle sequestered in an oxygen-free environment. The sudden development of free oxygen and the ensuing die off of the vulnerable life forms is an event called the oxygen catastrophe.


The crown eukaryotes, from which all modern-day eukaryotic lineages have arisen, have been dated to the Paleoproterozoic era. By ~1 Ga they probably diverged from their latest common ancestors into the ciliate and flagellate lineages. The Francevillian and Grypania fossils and the first eukaryotes also appeared during this time.

Geological events

During this era the earliest global-scale continent-continent collisional belts developed.

These continent and mountain building events are represented by the 2.1–2.0 Ga Trans-amazonian and Eburnean Orogens in South America and West Africa; the ~2.0 Ga Limpopo Belt in southern Africa; the 1.9–1.8 Ga Trans-Hudson, Penokean, Taltson–Thelon, Wopmay, Ungava and Torngat orogens in North America, the 1.9–1.8 Ga Nagssugtoqidain Orogen in Greenland; the 1.9–1.8 Ga Kola–Karelia, Svecofennian, Volhyn-Central Russian, and Pachelma Orogens in Baltica (Eastern Europe); the 1.9–1.8 Ga Akitkan Orogen in Siberia; the ~1.95 Ga Khondalite Belt and ~1.85 Ga Trans-North China Orogen in North China.

These continental collisional belts are interpreted as having resulted from 2.0–1.8 Ga global-scale collisional events that led to the assembly of a Paleo-Mesoproterozoic supercontinent named Columbia or Nuna.[4][5]

The lithospheric mantle of Patagonia's oldest blocks formed.[6]

See also

(Impact events)


  1. ^ "palaeo-". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016-01-20.  "Proterozoic". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2016-01-20. 
  2. ^ "Proterozoic". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 
  3. ^ Giorgio Pannella Paleontological evidence on the Earth's rotational history since early precambrian Astrophysics and Space Science 16.2 (1972): 212
  4. ^ Zhao, Guochun; Cawood, Peter A; Wilde, Simon A; Sun, Min (2002). "Review of global 2.1–1.8 Ga orogens: implications for a pre-Rodinia supercontinent". Earth-Science Reviews. 59: 125–162. Bibcode:2002ESRv...59..125Z. doi:10.1016/S0012-8252(02)00073-9. 
  5. ^ Zhao, Guochun; Sun, M.; Wilde, Simon A.; Li, S.Z. (2004). "A Paleo-Mesoproterozoic supercontinent: assembly, growth and breakup". Earth-Science Reviews. 67: 91–123. Bibcode:2004ESRv...67...91Z. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2004.02.003. 
  6. ^ Schilling, Manuel Enrique; Carlson, Richard Walter; Tassara, Andrés; Conceição, Rommulo Viveira; Berotto, Gustavo Walter; Vásquez, Manuel; Muñoz, Daniel; Jalowitzki, Tiago; Gervasoni, Fernanda; Morata, Diego (2017). "The origin of Patagonia revealed by Re-Os systematics of mantle xenoliths". Precambrian Research. 294: 15–32. 

External links

  • EssayWeb Paleoproterozoic Era
  • First breath: Earth's billion-year struggle for oxygen New Scientist, #2746, 5 February 2010 by Nick Lane. Posits an earlier much longer snowball period, c2.4 - c2.0 Gya, triggered by the Great Oxygenation Event.
  • The information on eukaryotic lineage diversification was gathered from a New York Times opinion blog by Olivia Judson. See the text here: [1].
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