Ancient fossil microorganisms indicate that life in the universe is common

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by Gawdzilla Sama, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    Ancient fossil microorganisms indicate that life in the universe is common
    Scientists analyze specimens from 3.465 billion years ago
    Date: December 18, 2017
    Source: University of California - Los Angeles
    Summary: A new analysis of the oldest known fossil microorganisms provides strong evidence to support an increasingly widespread understanding that life in the universe is common.

    A new analysis of the oldest known fossil microorganisms provides strong evidence to support an increasingly widespread understanding that life in the universe is common.

    The microorganisms, from Western Australia, are 3.465 billion years old. Scientists from UCLA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison report today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that two of the species they studied appear to have performed a primitive form of photosynthesis, another apparently produced methane gas, and two others appear to have consumed methane and used it to build their cell walls.

    The evidence that a diverse group of organisms had already evolved extremely early in the Earth's history -- combined with scientists' knowledge of the vast number of stars in the universe and the growing understanding that planets orbit so many of them -- strengthens the case for life existing elsewhere in the universe because it would be extremely unlikely that life formed quickly on Earth but did not arise anywhere else.

    "By 3.465 billion years ago, life was already diverse on Earth; that's clear -- primitive photosynthesizers, methane producers, methane users," said J. William Schopf, a professor of paleobiology in the UCLA College, and the study's lead author. "These are the first data that show the very diverse organisms at that time in Earth's history, and our previous research has shown that there were sulfur users 3.4 billion years ago as well.

    "This tells us life had to have begun substantially earlier and it confirms that it was not difficult for primitive life to form and to evolve into more advanced microorganisms."

    Schopf said scientists still do not know how much earlier life might have begun.

    "But, if the conditions are right, it looks like life in the universe should be widespread," he said.​

    Continues...

     
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  3. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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