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“It’s needle-in-a-haystack kind of stuff.” Discovered near Greenland’s southwestern coast, the 3.7-billion-year-old stromatolite fossils were exposed by the recent melting of a perennial snow patch.
“People have been walking through that area for many, many years,” Van Kranendok, who co-authored the team’s study, said.
As it turns out, these rocks harbor what appears to be the oldest fossils on Earth—stromatolites that date to around 3.7 billion years in age.
This latest insight has important implications for understanding the origin of life.
In fact, on the day researchers from Australia reported this discovery in scientific literature, it made headlines in news outlets around the world., geochemists have unearthed a number of chemical markers in the Isua supracrustal belt (ISB) of western Greenland that strongly hint at microbial life on Earth between 3.7 and 3.8 billion years ago.
But origin-of-life researchers debate the bioauthenticity of these geochemical signatures because a number of potential abiotic processes can produce similar geochemical profiles.
These microbes thrived in a shallow sea bathing a still young and fresh Earth, according to a study in this week’s “What we’ve done is produce something tangible,” Nutman says, “an actual fossil record (that is) evidence for life at those times.”The researchers “were able to see evidence for life in a way that I had never expected,” says Texas A&M University’s Michael Tice, who was not associated with the study.
“We have a much better window back in time, thanks to what these folks did.”The fossil was discovered in a barren stretch of Greenland that researchers have patiently explored for some three decades.
But these newly exposed formations contain regions that have experienced only limited metamorphosis, making it possible for fossils to survive.
Scientists have found the oldest physical evidence for life on earth in the fossils of Greenland rocks that are 3.7 billion years old.
The newly discovered fossils are 220 million years older than any previously unearthed fossil evidence, researchers wrote in the journal The discovery indicates that life on other planets was possible at the time."If we have got life at 3,700 million years on Earth, did it exist on other planets—because Mars, for example, 3,700 million years ago was wet," Clark Friend, co-researcher in the study, told .
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