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Microscope images of the fossil Bangiomorpha pubescens show it closely resembles modern bangio red algae.The image on the left is the thallus or body of the algae. The bottom one contains some asexual spores, but sexual spores have also been found.Once back at the lab, the researchers measured the amount of radioactive rhenium-187, a rare radioactive isotope found in seawater that accumulates in organic matter and decays to osmium-187.

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And being on the younger end of the range would have put its age as being similar to other fossils of recognizable complex organisms, making it nothing unusual.

Now researchers from Mc Gill University, using a relatively new radiochemical dating technique, have estimated that the fossils are between 1.03 billion and 1.06 billion years old.

(Nick Butterfield/University of Cambridge) "It confirms that this fossil is really special," said Gibson, an earth sciences Ph D student at Mc Gill.

Knowing precisely how old the fossil is also allowed the researchers to estimate that the very first plant likely evolved around 1.25 billion years ago.

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