3.77B-year-old fossils may be earliest proof of life on Earth
Tiny, tubular structures uncovered in ancient Canadian rocks could be remnants of some of the earliest life on Earth, scientists say.
The straw-shaped “microfossils,” narrower than the width of a hair and invisible to the naked eye, are believed to come from ancient microbes, according to a new study in the journal Nature. Scientists debate the age of the specimens, but the authors’ minimum estimate — 3.77 billion years — would make these fossils the oldest ever found.
Other researchers in the field expressed skepticism about whether the structures were really fossils, and whether the rocks that contain them are as old as the study authors say. But the scientists behind the new finding believe their analysis should hold up to scrutiny. In addition to structures that look like fossil microbes, the rocks contain a cocktail of chemical compounds they say is almost certainly the result of biological processes. If the findings are confirmed, they will boost a belief that organisms arose very early on Earth — and may be evolving on other worlds.