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bison

Fossils in a new meteorite?

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A meteorite that reportedly crashed in Sri Lanka very near the end of 2012 has been claimed to contain microscopic fossils, something like diatoms. Not thought to be contamination from Earth, due to their apparently being surrounded by the meteoric material. An interesting preliminary finding. Far more than merely interesting if it is confirmed by independent analysis. Link: http://wattsupwithth...-of-life-in-it/

Edited by bison
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leave it alone

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I read Phil Plait's blog in Slate last evening. Thanks for posting it, Imaginarynumber1. Good to have it where it can be conveniently referred to. Most new discoveries are criticized and questioned. The fact that Phil Plait has done so does not settle the matter, of course, anymore than Dr. Wickramasinghe's paper does.

Mr. Plait's brief is that the object is not a meteorite, but a common rock, and has been contaminated with Earthly algae. That may be the case, but I am not entirely convinced that this is so. Mr. Plait rejects the meteoric nature of the find because it does not resemble a typical carbonaceous chondrite. This is quite true, for it does not. I looked in the Google Image files, having used the search terms 'carbonaceous chondrite'. Within a few minutes I was able to find a specimen that looks quite a lot like the object from Sri Lanka. Mr. Plait is not professional meteorite expert, as he himself admits, nor, apparently, did he consult one. He seems in an undue haste to refute this discovery, out of hand. This should perhaps not be surprising as the whole first part of his blog amounts to an ad hominem attack on Dr. Wickramasinghe.

He did at least consult one biologist. He did not think the objects identified as diatoms looked as if they had been fossilized. He apparently worked from photographs alone, and ignored the portion of Dr, Wickramasinghe's paper that stated that the diatoms and the meteorite itself were mineralogically alike.

The biologist also seems to think that the diatoms too closely resemble those known on Earth to conceivably be from anywhere else. He specifies no particular species though. I should have thought this would be possible, and a telling point in favor of his contention, if these diatoms are actually Earthly ones.

I strongly suspect that a great deal more study of the object will be needed, including that by independent researchers, before anything can be known definitely about it.

Edited by bison

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