The conditions on our planet during the first few hundred million years were literally hellish. Image Credit: USGS
New evidence has revealed that life may have appeared on Earth 300 million years earlier than thought.
Scientists investigating the origins of life on Earth made the discovery while examining zircon crystals which preserve materials from the environment in which they were originally formed.
Due to the fact that these crystals are practically indestructible they can act as a time capsule through which it is possible to learn about the conditions that existed during Earth's earliest days.
Now researchers believe that they have found crystals containing traces of graphite - something that could have been created through organic processes - dating back a staggering 4.1 billion years.
The find is important because it pushes the emergence of life on Earth back by another 300,000 years to a time when the conditions on our planet were so hellish that the era has been named 'Hadean' after the Greek god of the underworld.
While the results of the study remain controversial, they do hold the potential to rewrite what we know of life's development on Earth while also opening up the possibility that life could have also emerged on other worlds with similarly inhospitable conditions.
"On Earth today, if you were looking at this carbon, you would say it was biogenic," said lead author Elizabeth Bell. "Of course, thatís more controversial for the Hadean."
Source: Washington Post | Comments (26)
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