In a recently published paper in the Journal Nature, a team of researchers from Australia says the evidence of microbial activity they found in Sedimentary Rocks of the Isua area of Greenland date back to 3.7 billion years from the present time.
If confirmed, these fossils are 220 million years older than any previously found, providing tangible evidence of ancient living organisms that offer potential clues about similar life on Mars.
The researchers believe the structures in the rocks are stromatolites – layered formations, produced by the activity of microbes, that can be found today in extremely saline lagoons in a few locations around the world.
Stromatolites are broadly defined as sedimentary structures that are produced by microorganism communities through trapping and binding of sediment, and/or precipitation of carbonate. Stromatolites are the most persistent evidence of life in Earth history, and are known from the present (for example, Shark Bay, Western Australia) to
3,480 million years ago in the rock record.
Dr. William Martin, head of the Molecular Evolution Institute at Dusseldorf’s Henrich Heine University, speaking to the CNN said that though the fossils lack clear isotope tracing to prove their biological nature incontrovertibly, it is nonetheless “a very exciting find.”
“If they really are of biological origin — and I think they’re convincing — then it’s interesting in two ways. One, it would be the oldest fossils we have.”
“Number two, they’re almost certainly photosynthetic. All signs indicate that stromatolites are growing in shallow waters and harvesting light energy. That would really put an ancient date on photosynthesis.”
If proven these will give a strong insight in to the formation of Oxygen and making the atmosphere of the earth more life friendly environment.
Researchers believe that the discovery could help researchers explore whether life was once present on other planets including Mars.
Sisira Kumara works as an Editor (News and Web) for The Sri lankan Scientist Magazine and the The Sri Lankan Scientist Media Organization. A graduate in Agricultural Biotechnology Mr. Sisira mainly covers local and international science news including latest findings and events.