Life on Land Dates Back to 3.5 Billion Year Old Hot Springs Project Update uri icon

DCO ID 11121/2562-2489-7329-2931-CC

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  • The Dresser Formation in Western Australia contains evidence of some of the earliest signs of life, dating back almost 3.5 billion years. In the 1970s, scientists discovered the remains of layered microbial mats called stromatolites there, which they thought had formed within an ancient volcanic caldera, submerged under seawater. New research, however, suggests that these early cells thrived not under the ocean, but rather on land, within hot springs.

    Martin Van Kranendonk, a member of DCO’s Deep Life and Extreme Physics and Chemistry Communities, Tara Djokic, a member of the Deep Life Community (both of University of New South Wales, Australia), and colleagues discovered microbial biosignatures and minerals matching modern hot spring environments within the Dresser Formation. These findings, which researchers report in a new paper in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that microbial life in hot springs existed about 3 billion years earlier than previously known.

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