AUSTRALIA – Deep in a remote, hot, dry patch of northwestern Australia lies on of the earliest detectable signs of life on the planet, tracing back nearly 3.5 billion years, scientists say.
At that time, Earth 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 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.
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.
Another unique thing about them, unlike some other geological phenomena, is that a MISS structure formed a few billion years ago can look much like one a few hundred-thousand years old. Yet another is that it can show not just evidence of one organism but an entire ecosystem, one in which living things coexisted with one another.