Scientists claim to have found evidence of earliest life on Earth
Microbial Australian fossils may push the earliest date for the origin of life on Earth by as much as 300 million years.
Scientists claim to have discovered the planet's oldest fossils and say the find increases the chance of life elsewhere in the universe. Scientists from the University of Western Australia and the University of Oxford led the study. A collection of microscopic cells and the protective casings that housed them.
Are these the oldest fossils in the world? Scientists from the University of Western Australia and University of Oxford say yes.
Researchers examined rocks in Western Australia, known to have existed before life originated on Earth. Earlier research done with samples from rock formations some 20 miles away, did not yield any evidence of life, but researchers plan to reexamine them with new methods to see if new clues can be found.
The method that helped researchers discover the microbes is known as Raman spectroscopy, which utilizes a combination of geochemical analysis and an electron microscope to detect carbon and other residual signs of life.
The find is important for astrobiologists who say it expands the possible realms of life in the universe. Previous efforts in the search for extra-terrestrial life have focused on finding Earth-like environments, however the discovery proves that life can develop in environments that aren't very much like Earth at all.
If that's the case, then the number of worlds on where life could develop would rise dramatically. It would bring into the realm of possibility many of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and well as creating another niche for scientists to seek on Mars.
Similar microbes do exist on Earth today in the form of sulfur loving bacteria found in boiling-hot geothermal vents deep on the ocean floor. The new find confirms they may have much in common with what may well be the earliest form of life on Earth.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Fossils, life, evolution, microbes, astrobiology, Australia
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