‘Smoking Gun’ Evidence Dates Some of Earth’s Earliest Life to 3.5 Billion Years Ago

Just a billion years after Earth took shape, microbial life was already thriving, scientists say.

  • Mindy Weisberger

Analysis of organic traces preserved in ancient Australian rocks — among Earth’s oldest — revealed a “perfect snapshot” of microbial life 3.5 billion years ago, the researchers said in a statement

Though individual microbes are too small to be seen with the naked eye, millions of microorganisms can fossilize together to form larger features embedded in rock, known as stromatolites. Many of these structures are preserved in Western Australia’s Dresser Formation. Though some geologists aren’t convinced that stromatolites represent ancient life, a new study presents “exceptional evidence” of stromatolites’ organic origins, researchers recently reported. …


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