Germs have been on Earth for at least 3.75 billion years, scientists say

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Germs have been on Earth for at least 3.75 billion years, scientists say

Complex microbial life on Earth existed at least 3.75 billion years ago, according to a new scientific researchwhich places much further back in the past – about 300 million years earlier – when life appeared on our planet, thus overturning the prevailing view so far.

Researchers from Britain, Canada and China, led by Dr. Dominique Papino of the Department of Geosciences at University College London (UCL), published their findings in the journal Science Advances. of Canada aged 3.75 to 4.28 billion years. Inside they found tiny traces that appear to have been made by bacteria, which lived near hydrothermal vents. To date, the oldest confirmed life form fossils have been found in Western Australia, dating to 3.46 billion years ago.

However, not all other scientists agree with the view that these signs are indeed of biological origin and constitute evidence of fossilized microbial life. The researchers argue that the traces, which are complex and reach a length of almost one centimeter, were not created by chance by chemical reactions. On the contrary, they believe that at least some of these structures in the rock were created by ancient microbes, which received energy by “eating” iron, sulfur and carbon dioxide in the rocks, through a process of photosynthesis without the involvement of oxygen.

Researchers estimate that a diversity of microbial life already existed on primitive Earth, perhaps only 300 million years after its creation about 4.5 billion years ago. According to Papino, “using various data, the study provides solid evidence that a number of different species of bacteria existed on Earth 3.75 to 4.28 billion years ago.

This means that life may have only begun 300 million years after the Earth was formed. In geological terms this is fast, about as long as a rotation of the Sun around our galaxy lasted. These findings also have implications for the possibility of extraterrestrial life. “If life is relatively fast, given the right conditions, then the likelihood of life on other planets increases.”

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