Discovery Of Oldest Fossils On Earth Could Lead In Searching For Life On Mars

First Posted: Sep 13, 2016 05:20 AM EDT

The scientists discovered the oldest fossils on Earth theorized to be 3.7 billion years old in Greenland. The findings could lead to the understanding of when life began and searching for extraterrestrial life in other planets particularly the planet Mars.

According to Inverse, the fossils are stromatolites, which contain the fossilized remains of convoluted microbes that are typically found in shallow waters. The scientists said that these fossils are small humps in rock that measures between one and four centimeters (0.4 and 1.6 inches) tall. They are layers of sediment saturated together by prehistoric, water-based bacterial colonies and depict lifeforms.

With the discovery of these oldest fossils, the scientists are having assessments on when the microbial life first arose on Earth. They believed that Earth endured battering in what they call Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB) 3 billion years ago. It was thought then that the Earth was hit by collision, which eradicated any existing lifeforms and turned the Earth barren. On the other hand, life appears on the planet Earth faster that the scientist thought.

Allen P. Nutman, a professor from the University of Wallongong in Australia explained that the significance of stromatolites is that not only they give obvious evidence of ancient life that is visible to the naked eye, but that they are complex ecosystems. He further explained that this suggests that as long as 3.7 billion years ago microbial life was already diverse. It also indicates that life existed within the first few hundred million years of earth's existence, which is in keeping with biologists' calculations showing the great antiquity of life's genetic code, as noted by World Weekly.

The researchers also said that the stromatolites are helpful for pursuing lifeforms on the Red Planet. Recently, the Mars researchers discovered an extensive network of ancient riverbeds dated about 4 billion years. John Rummel, professor of biology at East Carolina University and the former senior scientist for astrobiology emphasized that the southern highlands of Mars is an interesting prospect for astrobiological research that could have signs of biological activity.

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