The Paleoarchean (//), also spelled Palaeoarchaean (formerly known as early Archean), is a geologic era within the Archaean Eon. It spans the period of time —the era is defined chronometrically and is not referenced to a specific level of a rock section on Earth. The name derives from Greek "Palaios" ancient. The oldest ascertained life form of fossilized bacteria in microbial mats, old, found in Western Australia, is from this era. The first supercontinent Vaalbara formed during this period.
During this era, a large asteroid, about 37 to 58 kilometres (23–36 mi) wide, collided with the Earth in the area of South Africa about 3.26 billion years ago, creating the features known as the Barberton greenstone belt.
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