We have often wondered how long life existed on Earth and now it seems we finally have an answer.
Scientists have found the earliest evidence of life on planet Earth and it turns out that life was present on our planet hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought.
On the coast of Quebec, in the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt scientists discovered world’s oldest fossil that is 4.28 billion years old! It’s not a big life-form, only a microscopic bacterium that was smaller than the width of a human hair, but the discovery is very significant.
It was found in a rock formation, but researchers think a, the creatures lived in hot vents in the 140F (60C) oceans which covered the early planet. This assumption is based on the fact that chemical signatures in the rocks point to a deep-sea origin.
This discovery is very interesting because it shows these creatures were around not long after Earth itself was formed 4.54 billion years ago.
Scientists also think that this discovery offers strong evidence similar organisms could also have evolved on Mars, which at the time still had oceans and an atmosphere, and was being bombarded by comets which probably brought the building blocks of life to Earth.
“Early Mars and early Earth are very similar places, so we may expect to find life on both planets at this time,” Matthew Dodd said.
“We know that life managed to get a foothold and evolve rapidly on Earth. So if we have life evolving in hydrothermal vent systems maybe even 4.2 billion years ago when both planets had liquid water on their surface, then we would expect both planets to develop early life.
“If we do future sample returns from Mars and look at similarly old rocks and we don’t find evidence of life then this certainly may point to the fact that Earth might have been a very special exception, and life may just have arisen on Earth.”
Prior to this discovery, the oldest microfossils reported were found in Western Australia and dated at 3.4 billion years ago