The earliest known life forms on Earth are putative fossilized microorganisms found in hydrothermal vent precipitates. The earliest time that life forms first appeared on Earth is at least 3.77 billion years ago, possibly as early as 4.28 billion years, or even 4.41 billion years—not long after the oceans formed 4.5 billion years ago, and after the formation of the Earth 4.54 billion years ago. The earliest direct evidence of life on Earth are microfossils of microorganisms permineralized in 3.465-billion-year-old Australian Apex chert rocks.
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