An international team of scientists have just made a rather startling discovery in Quebec. They’ve found a fossil sample that has been aged at between 3.77 and 4.28 billion years old. If the sample is confirmed as a genuine fossil, it will be considered the oldest sign of life ever discovered, predating the previous record holder by hundreds of millions of years. It would mean that life emerged on this planet not long after the planet itself was formed.
According to the scientists who discovered the sample, it contains countless filaments of iron oxide which are believed to be the remains of bacteria that once lived near underwater hydrothermal vents.“The microfossils’ structures in themselves are almost identical, very similar, to microfossils and micro-organisms we see in similar hydrothermal vent settings today.”
What’s more startling though, is what implications this could have for the rest of our solar system. Specifically, this fossil may be the best evidence we have that similar lifeforms could have emerged on Mars. That’s because over 4 billion years ago, Mars and Earth had similar climate conditions.
According to Mathew Dodd, one of the lead researchers who worked with the fossil, “We know that life managed to get a foothold and evolve rapidly on Earth. So if we have life evolving in hydrothermal vent systems maybe even 4.2 billion years ago when both planets had liquid water on their surface, then we would expect both planets to develop early life.”
The researchers suggested that looking for rocks with similar origins on Mars would provide the best chance at finding signs of life on that planet. If fossils are found, it could prove the theory of panspermia, which suggests that life could have started on our planet from organisms that traveled here from Mars on asteroids. But if no fossils are found on these hydrothermal formed rocks, then according to Dodd, “If we do future sample returns from Mars and look at similarly old rocks and we don’t find evidence of life then this certainly may point to the fact that Earth might have been a very special exception, and life may just have arisen on Earth.”
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Contributed by Daniel Lang of The Daily Sheeple.
Daniel Lang is a researcher and staff writer for The Daily Sheeple – Wake The Flock Up!