Yet some stromatolites are living today and a unique DNA colony has been found on the island of Tasmania, just off the coast of Australia.
Stromatolites are laminated structures of micro-organisms which have created layers of minerals using elements dissolved in the water in which they live. Fossil stromatolites are the oldest evidence for life on Earth - they first appeared 3.7 billion years ago!
Ancient life form discovered in remote Tasmanian valley
Fossils living in Tasmania
Living fossils is the tag given to life forms that have ancestors in the fossil records but have some how survived all the mass extinctions and evolution to still be with us and alive today. Normally very similar genetic code to their supposedly ancient relatives.
The find has proved doubly interesting, because closer examination revealed that these spring mounds were partly built of living stromatolites ... The discovery provides clues why stromatolites thrived for millions of years but then virtually disappeared from all but a few exceptional places on earth.
... The discovery of living stromatolites in Tasmania is highly significant because stromatolites are rare globally and not previously known from Tasmania except as ancient fossils ... DNA analysis indicates that the Tasmanian stromatolites are micro-organism communities which differ from all other known stromatolites
Ancient life form discovered in remote Tasmanian valley | Science Daily
However, the discovery of this new colony of stromatolites has given the researchers new hope. "We were very excited because living stromatolites are believed to be rare... stromatolites may colonize a much broader range of freshwater environments than previously thought, and that stromatolites may be more common than presently recognized," says Bernadette.
Rare, ancient stromatolites discovered in Tasmania | Australian Geographic
Long lost stromatolites relatives
According to geology theory with tectonic plates there has been at least 7 supercontinents that have formed, broken up, moved around the planet, reformed, broken up, moved etc.
New research from the University of Tasmania and Mineral Resources Tasmania has established a close prehistoric connection between Tasmania and western North America, places now located on opposite sides of the globe. By analysing ancient minerals ... have compelling evidence that western North America was once our close geographical neighbour.
... the patterns of ages in the Rocky Cape Group strongly resemble those in sedimentary rocks from Montana, Idaho and southern British Columbia (the 'Belt-Purcell Supergroup' rocks), which is a strong genetic fingerprint and evidence that the Rocky Cape and the Belt-Purcell rocks were geographically close 1.4 billion years ago. "At this time, both Tasmania and North America were part of a supercontinent called Nuna," Dr Halpin said.
Prehistoric minerals find western North America and Tasmania were once neighbours | University of Tasmania