Scientists Find Signs Of Life In Northwestern Australia Dating Back 3.48 Billion Years

Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Archaeology, Science with 1 Comment

By Greg Botelho, CNN

(CNN) — Deep in a remote, hot, dry patch of northwestern Australia lies one of the earliest detectable signs of life on the planet, tracing back nearly 3.5 billion years, scientists say.

At that time, the Earth — relatively speaking — wasn’t into its adulthood yet. Scientists estimate the planet formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago; minerals known as zircons, indicating water, and continents existed within 100 million and 200 million years after that on what was still a scalding planet.

The existence of water suggests that life was possible. But what did it look like, and when did it start?

The discovery from the Dresser Formation, a much examined outcrop of rocks in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, documented in a paper published online this week in the Astrobiology journal may help answer those questions.

It centers on something called microbially induced sedimentary structures, commonly shortened to the acronym MISS. It’s a mouthful to many, but some scientists believe this phenomenon could be the key to finding the first demonstrable evidence of life.

A MISS forms via a process involving microorganisms (found in what’s called microbial mats) with rocks (or sediment), something that can only happens under certain conditions.

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Featured image: Pilbara, Western Australia

 

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  1. JFrenchau@hotmail.com' Julian says:

    Good to know that life originated here in Australia. Australia may also have the oldest official artwork as well, nobody seems to know about it either: http://www.ageofaquarius.cc/blog/thirty-thousand-year-old-artwork-that-nobody-knows-about-

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