Researchers have discovered what they think are fossils of a unique red algae species that lived about 650 million years ago during a brief respite between some of the most extreme ice ages the world has ever known. The fossils could speak to how life coped in the aptly named Cryogenian period, when glaciers held most of Earth in a frozen grip.

The new study appeared in the journal Palaios and was funded by grants from the NASA Astrobiology Institute element and the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology element of the NASA Astrobiology Program.