Scientists may have found living microbes in a rock from 830-million-years ago
Scientists have found an ancient life form from 800 million years ago that may be alive. Geologists from West Virginia University claim to have found microorganisms inside the Browne Formation, an 830 million-year-old rock that was found in the Australian desert. They believe that if microorganisms are actually alive, it may help us find life on Mars.
They took a piece of the Browne Formation that includes halite salt crystals. Then they used non-invasive optical techniques to make assessments. Not much later, they found organic liquids and solids.
In those substances, geologists found single-celled organisms called "prokaryotes" that have been known in the past to survive for hundreds of millions of years when trapped inside salt crystals like the one found.
Even then, in the paper published in journal Geology, scientists noted how "possible survival of microorganisms over geologic time scales is not fully understood."
If Browne prokaryotes turn out to be alive, then it could make our hunt for life on Mars easy, where rock compounds like the Browne Formation are present in abundance. Also, if these microorganisms turn out to be alive, the Browne Formation prokaryotes would the oldest living beings on Earth discovered so far.
"This discovery shows that microorganisms from saline depositional environments can remain well preserved in halite for hundreds of millions of years and can be detected in situ with optical methods alone. This study has implications for the search for life in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial chemical sedimentary rocks," the authors wrote.