The 1960s and 1970s were exciting times for the study of life on Earth. The discovery of unambiguous microfossils in the Gunflint Chert and Bitter Springs had established, unequivocally, the presence of a significantly pre-Cambrian biosphere. Confirmation of the biogenicity of ancient stromatolites initiated an investigation of their modern equivalents, and played an important role in establishing both microbial ecology and biogeochemistry as worthy scientific disciplines. Major advances were also being made in the understanding of biosynthetic and metabolic pathways, and, as always, the questions of the origin of life and its major divisions loomed large. Among the most provocative...

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