Oldest life on Earth traced to land

10 October 2019
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Scientists have found exceptionally preserved microbial remains in some of Earth’s oldest rocks in Western Australia – a major advance in the field, offering clues for how life on Earth originated. The UNSW researchers found the organic matter in stromatolites – fossilized microbial structures – from the ancient Dresser Formation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Stromatolites Contain Evidence of Ancient Life

The stromatolites have been thought to be of biogenic origin ever since they were discovered in the 1980s. However, despite strong textural evidence, that theory was unproven for nearly four decades, because scientists had not been able to show the definitive presence of preserved organic matter remains – until today’s publication in the journal Geology.

“This is an exciting discovery – for the first time, we’re able to show the world that these stromatolites are definitive evidence for the earliest life on Earth,” says lead researcher Dr. Raphael Baumgartner, a research associate of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology in Professor Martin Van Kranendonk’s team at UNSW.

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