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 New find could be oldest evidence of life ever discovered

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RR Phantom


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PostSubject: New find could be oldest evidence of life ever discovered   Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:32 pm

This looks like single-celled life that originated near a seafloor hydrothermal vent.

The study of life’s history on Earth is an ongoing effort to follow the thread further and further back in time. As amazing and fascinating as a few billion years’ worth of fossils are, we still ultimately want that Holy Grail that illuminates the origins of life on Earth. Unfortunately, that goal collides with the fact that the earliest evidence stands the least chance of being preserved through the eons for us to find.

New find might be oldest evidence of life on Earth

Each new find that purports to supplant the earliest known signs of life is virtually guaranteed to be controversial, subject to poking and prodding from skeptical scientists uncertain that every competing (non-living) explanation can be ruled out. Last August, for example, a paper claimed to show the remnants of stromatolites (small mounds built by communities of shallow water microorganisms) in 3.7 billion-year-old rocks in Greenland. Similar fossils from Australia that come in at about 3.5 billion years old are generally accepted as legit, but anything older is still subject to scientific debate.

Now, a new study led by University College London PhD student Matthew Dodd describes evidence of what the researchers believe to be seafloor bacteria that lived at least 3.7 billion years ago.

That evidence comes from rocks that are part of Quebec’s Nuvvuagittuq belt, which contain some of the oldest rocks on the planet. They comprised an ancient seafloor made of volcanic rock, but there are also layers of iron minerals that precipitated out of the seawater. Those are believed to have formed near hydrothermal vents that gushed super-hot water laden with minerals. The Nuvvuagittuq rocks have proven hard to date, but they are known to be at least 3.77 billion years old, and could even be as old as 4.28 billion years—very early indeed, considering that our planet formed only a little over 4.5 billion years ago.
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New find could be oldest evidence of life ever discovered

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