New Discovery: 3.4-Billion-Year-Old Microfossils Found Could Help Explain How Life Started

A microfossil as old as 3.4 billion years old was found to have explained how life started both on Earth and in celestial bodies above.

This ancient evidence of ‘methane-cycling microbe life’ which may have originated from underneath the seafloor could give insights on how or where life began how and where life first began during the Paleoarchean era, 3.2-3.6 billion years ago.

These life forms found in rich liquid made of cooler seawater from above its floor and warmer hydrothermal fluids from the below, mixed together might even tell us whether they were around long enough or much earlier than Earth’s history.

(Photo : Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)
Paleontologist works on cleaning microfossil sorting in the Fishbowl lab of the Page Museum in Los Angeles, California on March 9, 2011. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS

Finding Evidence of Life Through Sediments


Scientist were able to find samples of the oldest microbes from sub-surface habitats, or ecosystems heated by volcanic activity that were likely to have hosted the Earth’s earliest microbes.

“We found exceptionally well-preserved evidence of fossilized microbes that appear to have flourished along the walls of cavities created by warm water from hydrothermal systems a few meters below the seafloor,” said paleontologist Barbara Cavalazzi from the University of Bologna.

In a place where most of the oldest and well-preserved sedimentary rocks on the entire planet can be found, holds the fossils collected by the scientists. This restricted location of Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa also carries evidence of diversity among Earth’s earliest record of life. A few studies had found that sedimentary rocks in the region have escaped regional high-grade metamorphism and penetrative deformation.

After analyzing the sediments retrieved from the place, the scientist found a carbon-rich outer covering around the ‘chemically and structurally-distinct core’ of the microfossil, which implies that a wall or membrane covers its cells.

To verify if the microfossils collected were actually microbes on their past life, investigations had found that the samples contained most of the major chemical elements needed to live, including other supporting evidence like the concentrations of nickel similar what modern-day archaea prokaryotes have, and use of methane rather than oxygen, as what their distant ancestors did.

“Although we know that archaea prokaryotes can be fossilized, we have extremely limited direct examples,” Cavalazzi explained. She also added that the “findings extend the record of archaea fossils for the first time into the era when life first emerged on Earth.”

Also read: Paleontologists Uncovered Two Mysterious Species of ‘Pseudo-Horses’ That Lived 37 Million Years Ago

The Order of Life

Do humans really possess the wisdom and ability to foretell the origin and order of life on Earth? On outer space? We would never know unless insights from billion-years-old lightning strikes, or blasts from hydrothermal vents are thoroughly analyzed.

While investigating earthly events a billion years back might be a lot of work, the recent research of ancient microbes confirms the previous hypothesis that subsurface hydrothermal systems could be as important in the creation of life as other factors.

Opening up the mind to a lot of possibilities of how life started could mean better understanding of conditions required to be able to say, life did exist. These parameters are not just useful for earthly matters, but for life on other planets as well.

Also read: Diver Spots Bizzare 26-Foot-Long Giant Sea Worm That Only Comes Out at Night

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Publish date : 2021-07-16 23:40:00

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