Some 3.4 billion-year-old fossils have been chemically analysed, and they might be considered the oldest evidence of life in the world.
Information on the fossils
These microfossils discovered in 2011 in the Strelley Pools formation in the Western Australia desert. They are almost as old as the Earth which is said to be 4.5 billion years old.
Sometimes it is hard to differentiate a rock from a fossil, but these particular ones might be from ancient bacteria.
Now an international team of researchers focuses on the chemical analysis of the fossils.
The researchers’ study
The fossils’ chemical spectra have been analyzed in minute detail by them using techniques such as synchrotron-based X-ray, focused ion beam, Raman microspectroscopy, and so on.
Thanks to these high-tech approaches, the researchers find in the recently fractured rock samples film-like organic microfossils.
Their next stage is to make a comparison between their results and Gunflint Formation’s 1.9 billion-year-old fossils from Canada.
The team has also made a comparison with common bacteria, and they along with the 1.9 billion-year-old fossils and the 3.4 billion-year-old ones have similar absorption features which state that the Stelley fossils are proof of life.
The competition between fossils
The researchers admit that the excellent preservation of the fossils is remarkable. According to their molecular structure, they survived 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures for extended periods of times throughout their life.
Unfortunately, the competition is not natural as fossils found in Greenland in Isua called Stromatolites are 3.7 billion years old and are said to contain “carbonaceous compounds, with isotopic ratios that are compatible with a biogenic origin.”
There is still to be seen which fossils will win the battle for the proof of life.