Scientists have found evidence of early photosynthesis that led to a flooding of the Earth's atmosphere with oxygen approximately 2.4 billion years ago. A team of geophysicists found a rock in South Africa that contains oxygen-rich manganese deposits, evidence that early cyanobacteria used photosynthesis to convert the sun's light into energy and food using manganese, resulting in the release of oxygen. "Manganese plays an essential role in modern biological water-splitting as a necessary catalyst in the process, so manganese-oxidizing photosynthesis makes sense as a potential transitional photosystem," said lead author of the study, Jena Johnson.

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