(ORDO NEWS) — In a new paper published in the scientific journal Geology, West Virginia University (WVU) geologists report that some microorganisms found inside more than 830 million-year-old halite crystals rock salt from the Brown Formation in Central Australia may still be alive . If the scientists are right, this could help us find life on Mars, if it exists or ever has.
Taking a portion of the Brown Formation that includes halite salt crystals, WVU researchers have detected organic liquids and solids using non-invasive (non-penetrating) optical techniques.
They then found in these substances single-celled organisms known as prokaryotes, which had previously been found to be able to survive for hundreds of millions of years, trapped inside salt crystals like those found inside the ancient Brown Formation rock under study.
Earth’s ancient bacteria
The researchers note that while “the possible survival of microorganisms on geologic timescales is not fully understood,” Brown Formation prokaryotes, if found to be definitely alive, could play a crucial role in our search for life on Mars , where some rocks have much in common with earthly.
Scientists have previously found ancient living organisms in halite salt crystals, whose age was estimated at hundreds of millions of years.
For example, in 2000, living protozoa Bacillus permians were discovered that are about 250 million years old. However, if the Brown Formation prokaryotes turn out to be alive, then they will officially become the oldest creatures on Earth , who lived long before the appearance of the first dinosaurs (dinosaurs originated in the Triassic period, between 243 and 233.23 million years ago).
Obviously, more research is needed before we can find out if the microorganisms trapped in this ancient salt crystal are really still alive, but if the scientists are proven right, then this will no doubt be a great discovery.
Contact us: [email protected]