Ancient microbes were spewed from deep-sea hydrothermal vents, study claims
Tiny, iron-rich fossils exhumed from the depths of an ancient ocean could reveal the cradle of life.
These micrometer-scale structures are probably remnants of microorganisms that once lived amidst ancient hydrothermal vents, researchers suggest March 1 in Nature.
“In a nutshell, what we’ve found are the oldest microfossils on Earth,” says study coauthor Matthew Dodd, a biogeochemist at University College London. The rocks that hold the fossils came from Quebec and date to somewhere between 4.28 billion and 3.77 billion years old — when Earth was still a baby. The next oldest microfossils reported are just under 3.5 billion years old, though their validity has been debated (SN: 2/8/14, p. 16).
If Dodd’s structures truly are remnants of microbes, “it’s fantastic. I