Strongly peraluminous granites (SPGs) are generated by the partial melting of sedimentary rocks and can thus provide a novel archive to reveal secular trends in Earth’s environmental history that integrate siliciclastic sedimentary lithologies. The nitrogen (N) content of Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic SPGs reveals a systematic increase across the Precambrian−Phanerozoic boundary. This rise is supported by a coeval increase in the phosphorus (P) contents of SPGs. Collectively, these data are most parsimoniously explained by an absolute increase in biomass burial in the late Proterozoic or early Phanerozoic by a factor of ∼5 and as much as 8. The Precambrian−Phanerozoic transition was a time of progressive oxygenation of surface environments paired with major biological innovations, including the rise of eukaryotic algae to ecological dominance. Because oxygenation suppresses biomass preservation in sediments, the increase in net biomass burial preserved in SPGs reveals an expansion of the biosphere and an increase in primary production across this interval.

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