Back in the 80s of the last century inAustralia has discovered fossils of 3.5 billion years old. Even then, scientists have suggested that the remains of living organisms may be present in these fossils. However, at that time there were no technologies that would confirm or refute this hypothesis. But, as the editors of ScienceAlert, the scientists finally got to the bottom of the truth.
How long has life existed on earth?
The ancient fossils already mentioned werefound in the Pilbara region - this is a large, deserted and sparsely populated region in the north of the Western part of the Australian continent. It is worth noting that this is not the first such find. Previously, scientists have already found (though not here, but on the territory of Greenland) even more ancient fossils with an age of 3.7 billion years. But there were no organic residues in their composition. In this case, everything turned out to be a little different.
This is an exciting discovery. For the first time, we were able to show that the fossils found almost 40 years ago are really proof of the existence of life on our planet at the very early stage of its formation. Says geologist Rafael Baumgartner of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia.
Scientists have done with fossils from Australiaa series of tests. Moreover, if in ordinary situations only a few of them are used to analyze minerals, now it was decided to use all possible methods. If suddenly among our readers there are geologists, then they will be interested to know all kinds of manipulations that were carried out with fossils:
- Scanning electron microscopy.
- Scanning transmission electron microscopy.
- Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy.
- Raman spectroscopy.
- Nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometer.
- Analysis of stable carbon isotopes.
Why did you need to use all of theseintractable methods? It's simple: scientists wanted to exclude the possibility that something might be missed, because even the smallest biological particle could confirm the guesses of experts. And so it happened. And not to miss the most important thing from the world of science will help to subscribe to our Telegram channel.
This is interesting: How to become a fossil?
Analysis of fossil remains showed that they are inmainly composed of a mineral called pyrite. The peculiarity of pyrite is that it is penetrated by the smallest pores that are not visible to the human eye. A deep scan of the pores of the material showed that quite a lot of nitrogen-containing organic materials are present inside the pyrite, which are, apparently, products of the vital activity of microorganisms. But that's not all. Organic filaments very similar in composition to the membrane walls of modern bacteria were also found in the pores of pyrite.
Scientists assure that new research will not helponly to understand that life on our planet was born earlier than we thought, but in the future it will also make it possible to find out the “genealogy” of other planets. After all, if similar fossils are found on seemingly lifeless planets, now we will know what to do with them.