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Ancient Hot Springs May Hold Truth About Evolution On Land

First Posted: May 12, 2017 05:51 AM EDT

Pilbara, Western Australia - Fossil evidence of early life found in the old hot spring deposits of Pilbara may shed light to how life evolved on Earth. Researchers made fresh analysis of fossils found several decades ago and found that the fossil dated almost 3.48 billion years.

In 1970, when the fossilized stromatolites were found in Pilbara, researchers estimated the structures to be built by microorganisms. This held true, but they also discovered that the fossils were actually part of a prehistoric volcano.

However, according to Perf Science, a new study by a team of researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that electrical energy naturally generated at the seafloor may have been the start of evolution as science knows it. Lead researcher Michael Russel said in a statement, "Life takes advantage of unbalanced states on the planet." He also added that such unbalance could have been the case billions of years ago, and it is thus a process that resolves the lack of stability on the planet or its "disequilibria."

If proven right, Scientific American noted that this study will have proven Charles Darwin's theory to be close to the truth. In the scientists' views on the origin of life, he spoke of a "warm little pond" where the first molecules may have formed on Earth.

Frances Westall of France's National Center for Scientific Research said that the paper has been thorough in its findings. Although not involved in the study, Westall is working with the European Space Agency's mission to look for life-related gases in the atmosphere of Mars. She noted that the study regarding the evolution of life on Earth could provide context regarding what evidence to look out for of ancient life on the Red Planet.

However, as noted by the Smithsonian, to determine whether or not certain rock features were produced by living organisms will be hard to determine. "Such samples should be returned to Earth for detailed analysis," she explained.

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