Planet Earth

3 Billion-Year-Old Sulfur-Eating Microbes May Be the Oldest Fossils Ever Found

80beatsBy Valerie RossAug 23, 2011 4:21 PM

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A cluster of 3.4 billion-year-old fossilized cells

What's the News: Geologists have found fossils of microorganisms from 3.4 billion years ago, which may be the oldest fossils ever uncovered. Since these microbes date from a time when Earth's atmosphere was still oxygen-free, astrobiologists could look for similarly structured microbes when searching for extraterrestrial life. How the Heck:

What's the Context:

The Future Holds:

Reference: David Wacey, Matt R. Kilburn, Martin Saunders, John Cliff & Martin D. Brasier. "Microfossils of sulphur-metabolizing cells in 3.4-billion-year-old rocks of Western Australia." Nature Geoscience, published online August 21, 2011. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1238

Image courtesy of David Wacey / Nature Geoscience

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