2600 MYA

Larger, thicker, stronger continents emerge as Earth cools, closing the period of major crust formation. The continents grow and stabilize. Shallow, wide continental shelves provide ideal habitats for the growth and preservation of stromatolites. These cosmopolitan communities grow abundantly and luxuriantly along the continental margins.

Miniature versions of deep-time-scapes are preserved in Shark Bay, Australia, and off the coast of Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas. (Photography by Lynn Margulis, top, Elso Barghoorn, middle, and Paul Strother, bottom)

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