New study concludes: Life on Earth emerged 3.7 billion years ago


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A fascinating new study recently published in the Journal Nature indicates that life on Earth developed sooner and faster than previously thought. This discovery could have important implications whether or not life may have formed on other planets or moon in our solar system.

If Early life developed so long ago, could more complex life have existed on Earth before modern civilization? 


If Early life developed so long ago, could more complex life have existed on Earth before modern civilization?
If Early life developed so long ago, could more complex life have existed on Earth before modern civilization?

Thanks to a new study, researchers have revealed that life on EARTH developed sooner and faster than previously thought and may have also existed on Mars in the distant past.

The oldest fossil ever found supports the idea that life came into existence a staggering 3.7 billion years ago

According to experts, at a time when our planet was in its relative infancy, bombarded by asteroids when ‘chaos’ ruled on Earth, life found a way to shelter beneath the lapping waves of a shallow sea.

Researchers have concluded this after discovering stromatolites –structures that were formed by the sedimentation of microorganisms – in Greenland which exceed the age of similar fossils found in Australia. The new research was published in the Journal Nature.


Life on Earth 3,7 billion years
Tiny bumps between 0.5 and 1.5 inches tall found embedded in a rocky outcrop in Greenland have been shown to be the oldest fossils created by a living organism, some 3.7 Billion years ago.

There aren’t traces of the original microbes, only the mounds they left behind. But this doesn’t mean that it is not a finding of great importance, revealed Martin van Kranendonk, one of the authors.

“This has helped us think bout how life on Earth developed, and the speed at which this process occurred,” said Kranendonk.

Writing in the journal Nature, researchers said: “The recognition of 3,700 million-years-old biogenic stromatolites within Isua dolomites indicates that near the start of the preserved sedimentary record, atmospheric CO2 was being sequestered by biological activity.”

“The complexity and setting of the Isua stromatolites point to sophistication in life systems at 3,700 million years ago, similar to that displayed by 3,480–3,400 million-years-old Pilbara stromatolites.This implies that by 3,700 million years ago life already had a considerable prehistory.”

The revolutionary discovery, led by the University of Wollongong (Australia) was made in Isua, southwestern Greenland, which is considered by mans as the cradle of life.

This region is home to the oldest known and best-preserved rocks.

Several lines of research had already shown environments where life could arise about 4,000 million years ago.

However,  this discovery does not only have implications for life on Earth.

Writing in an accompanying study in the Journal Nature, Dr. Abigail Allwood, an earth scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California commented that the new findings could have important implications whether or not life may have formed on other planets or moon in our solar system.

‘Earth’s surface 3.7 billion years ago was a tumultuous place, bombarded by asteroids and still in its formative stages. If life could find a foothold here, and leave such an imprint that vestiges exist even though only a minuscule sliver of metamorphic rock is all that remains from that time, then life is not a fussy, reluctant and unlikely thing,“ said Dr. Allwood.

‘Give life half an opportunity and it’ll run with it. Suddenly, Mars may look even more promising than before as a potential abode for past life.A plethora of Mars missions has shown that around the time that the Isua rocks were forming, Mars did not look too different from Earth from a habitability perspective, with standing bodies of water at the surface,’ added Dr. Abigail Allwood.

Journal Reference:

Allen Nutman et al.: “Rapid emergence of life shown by discovery of 3,700-million-year-old microbial structures”. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature19355


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One Comment

  1. the post refers to life in general, which is fine. mono cellular, or micro cellular, still good. of particular interest tome is the influence on the development or evolution of the genus homo erectus. past civilizations should indicate those ‘rites’ of passage to civility and technology. on the over all, breath taking…

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