|Posted by arleneteng on April 14, 2009 at 9:42 AM|
It is not just living organisms that evolve. Minerals do too, and much of their diversity has arisen in tandem with the evolution of life.
Evolution has come a long way since Charles Darwin?s time. Today it is not only animals and plants that are seen as having evolved over time, but also things that involve the hand of humans, like architecture, music, car design and even governments. Now rocks, too, seem to be showing evolutionary characteristics. Rocks are made from minerals, which like all matter are composed of individual chemical elements. What makes minerals special is the way that the atoms of those elements are arranged in lattices which create unique crystalline structures and shapes. Today more than 4,000 different minerals can be found on Earth. When the planet began to be formed, however, few existed.
Curious as to how this great variety came about, Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, and a team of colleagues set out on their own voyage of discovery. Their study, just published in American Mineralogist, explores the history of minerals by identifying how much of the diversity was created by the rocks alone and how much of it was created by the evolution of life.
Categories: Nat Sci 3