Scientists have discovered what they believe to be the remains of the oldest creature to ever roam the Earth.
This microscope image made available by Matthew Dodd in February 2017 shows a filament attached to a clump of iron at lower right in rock found in Quebec, Canada. The structures appear to be the oldest known fossils, giving new support to some ideas about how life began, a new study says. (Matthew Dodd via AP)
Following the recent discovery of several new planets, scientists have now discovered what they believe to be the remains of the oldest creatures to ever roam the Earth.
Researchers published their findings in the journal Nature, stating that they have found fossils of what could be the earliest creatures on Earth, embedded in rocks that are at least 3.7 billion years old.
In a NPR interview with Matt Dodd, a biogeochemist at the University College of London in the UK said, “These rocks are some of the oldest — if not the oldest — sedimentary rocks on Earth today.”
Dodd has been studying these ancient, strangely-shaped rocks, saying they look like “strings of iron” or like tubes and spirals. These rocks are similar to the microbes one might find around volcanic vents in the ocean – rusty-looking gelatinous mats full of bacteria.
“A spongey kind of gloopy soup, if you like,” said Dodd.
The “gloopy soup” contained the shaped that Dodd and his colleagues spotted in these rocks. According to Dodd, the fossils have the chemistry one would expect to find around living organisms; lots of carbon and phosphorus.
“It provides us with this high degree of certainty that these structures are indeed biological microorganisms that were living and thriving around hydrothermal vents billions of years ago,” Dodd said.
While the discovery could give us better insight into when the world began, many are skeptical about the fossils and their authenticity.
“I’ve got 14 queries and problems that need addressing before I’ll believe it,” said Roger Buick, a geobiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The rocks were found in Isua, Greenland, where researchers have worked for years to find signs of life dating back billions of years.
The skepticism over the fossil findings is due to the fact that these rocks are some of the most physically damaged rocks on our planet. According to Nature the rocks “have been squeezed and heated over billions of years as crustal plates shifted. The pressure and heat recrystallizes the rocks, erasing much of the fine-scale detail that researchers normally use to identify fossilized stromatolites.” This fact has also caused the rocks to trigger many debates.