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October 01, 1998 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-01

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 1, 1998 - 9A

A close new look into Earth's deep
past shows that for a very, very long
time, life on this planet may have been
distinctly wormy.
The discovery of worm tracks on
ancient sediments in India suggests that
small worms, perhaps the first complex
life forms, began burrowing through
*mud on Earth 1.1 billion years ago.
If true, that would place the begin-
ning of multi-cellular life on our planet
twice as early as scientists previously
calculated, said Yale University paleon-
tologist Adolf Seilacher, who reports
the research this week in Science mag-
The surprising new evidence was
discovered in ancient, sandy sediments
in central India.
Seilacher said he went to India in
1996 "to show that the things described
there were not burrows."
But he found the burrows are real,
formed in a layer of soil just beneath a
layer of marine bacteria in shallow water.
In that protected environment, he
said, the worms - which were about as
thick as a drinking straw - apparently
dined on the remains of dead bacteria,
breathing oxygen released into the soil
by the bacteria.
No remains of the worms were
"If this report is true, it is spectacu-
lar," said paleontologist William
Schopf, at UCLA. Schopf studies the
earliest known fossils on Earth, algal
remains called stromatolites.
Fossil evidence has long shown that
something important happened 540
million years ago, when the so-called
*"Cambrian Explosion" of biological
diversification took place.
That is the period when most species
known today arose, but scientists have
never really determined what caused
the dramatic change.
Before then, the researchers said, the
"diversification of animal designs pro-
ceeded very slowly."
But afterwards, there was an intense
burst of evolution leading to the humans,
lions, elephants, cats, dogs and other
ings that inhabit the Earth today.
Although the idea is speculative,
Seilacher said, it may be that by 540 mil-
lion years ago enough oxygen had final-
ly accumulated in the air to allow more
complex forms of life to develop, and
then spread to inhabit the entire globe.
Oxygen metabolism provides a sub-
stantial energy boost.
Seilacher, professor emeritus in
1ubingen, Germany, worked on the
research with two colleagues, sedimen-
tologists Pradip Bose, in Calcutta,
India, and Friedrich Pfluger, in
'Reutlingen, Germany.
vk I

Continued from Page 1
Greenhoe said. "There has been a
tremendous amount of dialogue in the
last few days."
The evening after the fire, school offi-
cials held a meeting for the entire student
body. Students addressed their concerns
and posed questions about the facts sur-
rounding the fire, Jones wrote in his letter.
The school is offering a $1,000 reward
for information leading to the identifica-
tion of anyone responsible for the letter or
fire, Jones wrote.
Incidents such as this cause University

officials to take a closer look at race rela-
tions on campus, said Maureen Hartford
vice president for student affairs.
"When something like this happens,
there's always the issue of how to access
the threat," Hartford said. "This is definite-
ly an issue we will discuss at our next
School officials at Kalamazoo College
said the black student who was the target
of the crime has let campus to be with
his family in Chicago. As of yet, it is
unclear whether he will return to campus.
A racial hate crime of this magnitude
has never occurred on the Kalamazoo
College campus, Greenhoe said.

A government soldier rest a rocket-propelled grenade on his shoulder near Mankulam, Sri Lanka, on Sunday, days
before the miliary wrested the city from Tamil Tiger rebels.
SriLanka declresvictory

NEW DELHI, India (AP) - Sri
Lanka's military claimed a major
battlefield prize yesterday, but
reports of the staggering cost of the
victory - as many as 1,300 soldiers
and Tamil rebels dead - underlined
how difficult it will be for either side
to win the 15-year war.
The battle occurred along a strate-
gic highway that links Colombo, the
capital, to the government-held
northern town of Jaffna. The military
campaign, which has proceeded inch
by bitter, bloody inch since May
1997, has wrested two-thirds of the
highway from rebels.

Red Cross spokesperson Harsha
Gunawardene said rebels handed
over the bodies of 600 soldiers yes-
terday, apparent casualties of the
highway fighting that began Sunday.
Gunawardene said the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam returned the
bodies at Mallavi, 25 miles southwest
of Kilinochchi, a key town at the north-
ern end of the highway where fighting
reportedly continued yesterday.
Gunawardene spoke by telephone
from Colombo to The Associated
Press in New Delhi, the capital of
neighboring India.
The Red Cross toll is in addition to

262 soldiers whose bodies the mili-
tary recovered itself. In Colombo,
hospital officials speaking on condi-
tion of anonymity said another 53
soldiers have died in hospitals. The
military also said it killed 477 rebels
in the fighting.
The Sri Lankan government has
imposed censorship, restricting what
local and foreign correspondents can
report about the war and casualties.
Journalists haven't been allowed
near the battle. Few details were
available on the nature of the fight-
ing, and why the reported number of
casualties was so high.

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