Fact Focus: Stromatolites by Ken McNamara
Crossing the low dunes and descending to the beach at Shark Bay in Australia’s north-west is like slipping back billions of years in time. Where the waves gently break on the shore, rising like rows of giant concrete cauliflowers from the ocean, are stromatolites — among the most ancient life forms on earth.
A stromatolite may look like an inanimate rock, but examine a piece from its surface under a powerful microscope and it is revealed to be teeming with life. These ‘living rocks’, as they are sometimes called, are complex domes or columns of sediment formed by microbiological communities. Remarkably too, these oldest of life forms have remained virtually unchanged during the comings and goings of all the animals and plants to have ever lived on the planet.
Stromatolites is a concise and well-illustrated account of the structure and formation of these remarkable constructions of nature — a perfect introduction for both students and general readers.
- Published 2009 (2nd Edition)