Geologists plan to uncover 830 million year old crystals that may contain ancient life

Geologists plan to uncover 830 million-year-old rock salt crystals, which they believe contain ancient microorganisms that may still be alive.

Researchers from the Geological Society of America first announced the discovery of tiny remnants of prokaryotic life and algae in ancient halite crystals earlier this month.

These organisms are found in microscopic bubbles of fluid in crystals, known as inclusion fluids, which can serve as micro-habitats for small colonies to thrive.

Researchers now want to open the crystals to see if this ancient life is still alive.

While returning an 830 million-year-old life form to the modern world may not be the most plausible idea, the researchers insist that it will be done with extreme caution.

Study author Kathy Benison, a geologist at West Virginia University, said: NPR.

Researchers have found tiny remnants of prokaryotic life and algae in halite crystals of the 830 million-year-old Brown Formation in central Australia. Photo: Liquid inclusions in halite with microorganisms

Organisms are found in fluid inclusions in crystals, which can serve as microhabitats for small colonies to thrive. Pictured: liquid inclusions in halite

This extraordinary discovery was originally reported in the journal geology On May 11th.

The researchers used a choice of imaging techniques to study fluid inclusions in a piece of halite from the 830 million year old Brown Formation in central Australia.

They found organic solids and liquids that were consistent in size, shape, and fluorescent response to prokaryotic and algal cells.

This discovery shows that microorganisms can remain well preserved in halite for hundreds of millions of years.

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According to the researchers, this has implications for the search for alien life.

Similar biometric fingerprints can be detected in chemical deposits from Mars, where large salt deposits have been identified as evidence of ancient liquid water reservoirs.

Image of a soft halite core slab from the 830 million year old Chocolate Formation, where crystals containing microorganisms were found

Map of Australia with approximate location of Empress 1A’s core (black star), where halite crystals are mined from

Microorganisms in individual primary fluid inclusions in halites from the Brown Formation, Central Australia

While it may seem implausible that the microorganisms in the crystals are still alive, previously living prokaryotes have been extracted from halite as far back as 250 million years ago, so it is not impossible to live 830 million years.

“The potential survival of microorganisms on geological timescales is not fully understood,” the researchers wrote in their study.

It has been suggested that radiation will destroy organic matter over a long period of time, but Nicostro et al. (2002) found that buried 250 million year old halite was exposed to only small amounts of radiation.

In addition, microorganisms can survive in fluid inclusions with metabolic changes, including survival of starvation and cyst phases, and coexist with organic compounds or dead cells that can serve as a source of nutrients.

Commenting on the scientists’ plans to open the crystal, Bonnie Baxter, a biologist at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, who was not involved in the research, said the risk of a dire pandemic is relatively low.

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“Ecological organisms that have never seen humans before would not have the mechanisms to enter us and cause disease,” he told NPR.

“So personally, from a scientific perspective, I’m not afraid of that.”

The first life appeared on Earth at least 300 million years earlier than previously thought

A new study has revealed that the first life on Earth appeared at least 3.75 billion years ago – about 300 million years earlier than previously thought.

The disclosures are based on analysis of fist-sized rocks from Quebec, Canada, which are estimated to be between 3.75 and 4.28 billion years old.

Researchers have previously found threads, knobs and tiny tubes in the rock, which appear to be the work of bacteria. However, not all scientists agree that these structures are of biological origin.

Now, after further in-depth analysis, the team at University College London have discovered a larger and more complex structure within the rock – a trunk with parallel branches on one side about a centimeter long.

They also found hundreds of deformed balls, or “ellipses,” next to the tube and thread.

The researchers say that while some structures can be visualized through chemical reactions by chance, the “tree-like” trunk with parallel branches is likely biological in origin.

This is because no structure created by chemistry alone has been discovered as such.

By far, the oldest known evidence of life on Earth is 3.46 billion-year-old rock from Western Australia that contains worm-like microfossils.

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