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Earth was like Mars? Experts find fossils in Greenland dating back to 3.7 Billion Years

Greenland stromatolites find can make Mars look even more promising than before as a potential abode for past life

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Allen Nutman (L) of the University of Woollongong and Vickie Bennet of the Australian National University hold a specimen of 3.7 billion-year-old fossils found in Greenland in Canberra, Australia, August 23, 2016. Picture taken August 23, 2016. Image source: Reuters
  • Stromatolites-fossilized communities of bacteria were supposedly found in south-west Greenland, these pre date fossils by 220 million years
  • There can be staggering implications of this find, one of them being a higher probability of life in Mars
  • The Earth was probably similar to Mars when stromalites started growing

September 1,2016– Fossils as defined in a dictionary are the remains or impression of a prehistoric plant or animal embedded in rock and preserved in petrified form. In simpler terms, fossils help us understand the existence of life that dates back to some billion years.

In recent news, the earliest fossil evidence of life on Earth has been found in rocks 3.7 billion years old in Greenland. This in way raises the chances of life on Mars aeons ago when both planets were similarly desolate, scientists said on Wednesday.

The experts found tiny humps, between one and 4 cm (0.4 and 1.6 inches) tall, in rocks at Isua in south-west Greenland that they said were fossilized groups of microbes similar to ones now found in seas from Bermuda to Australia.

If confirmed as fossilized communities of bacteria known as stromatolites – rather than a freak natural formation – the lumps would pre-date fossils found in Australia as the earliest evidence of life on Earth by 220 million years.

“This indicates the Earth was no longer some sort of hell 3.7 billion years ago,” lead author Allen Nutman, of the University of Wollongong, told Reuters of the findings that were published in the journal Nature.

“It was a place where life could flourish.”

Earth formed about 4.6 billion years ago and the relative sophistication of stromatolites indicated that life had evolved quickly after a bombardment by asteroids ended about 4 billion years ago.

“Stromatolites contain billions of bacteria … they’re making the equivalent of apartment complexes,” said Martin Van Kranendonk, a co-author at the University of New South Wales who identified the previously oldest fossils, dating from 3.48 billion years ago.

At the time stromatolites started growing in gooey masses on a forgotten seabed, the Earth was probably similar to Mars with liquid water at the surface, orbiting a sun that was 30 percent dimmer than today, the scientists said.

Those parallels could be a new spur to study whether Mars once had life, the authors said.

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“Suddenly, Mars may look even more promising than before as a potential abode for past life,” Abigail Allwood, of the California Institute of Technology, wrote in a commentary in Nature.

The Greenland find was made after a retreat of snow and ice exposed long-hidden rocks. Greenland’s government hopes that a thaw linked to global warming will have positive spin-offs, such as exposing more minerals.

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Nutman said the main controversy was likely to be that the fossils were in metamorphic rocks, reckoned to have formed under huge stress with temperatures up to 550 degrees Celsius (1,022°F) – usually too high to preserve any trace of life.

Still, Van Kranendonk told Reuters that dried-out biological material could sometimes survive such a baking, adding he was “absolutely convinced” by the Greenland fossils. (Reuters)

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Here Are The Highlights From India-Australia’s 11th Meeting of The Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism

India thanked Australia for co-sponsoring the listing proposal of Masood Azhar along with the US, the UK, France and other friendly countries.

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The next meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism shall be held in India at a mutually convenient date, the release said. Pixabay

India and Australia held the 11th meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism at Canberra on Thursday where they deliberated upon the terrorist threats worldwide and in their respective regions including the problem of cross-border terrorism.

An External Affairs Ministry release issued on Friday said they also discussed contemporary counter-terrorism challenges such as financing of terrorism, use of internet for terror purposes, radicalisation and foreign terrorist fighters.

“The bilateral Joint Working Group deliberated upon the terrorist threats worldwide and in their respective regions including the problem of cross-border terrorism,” it said.

India has been facing problem of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.

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An External Affairs Ministry release issued on Friday said they also discussed contemporary counter-terrorism challenges such as financing of terrorism, use of internet for terror purposes, radicalisation and foreign terrorist fighters. Pixabay

Both sides welcomed the listing of Masood Azhar, leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, as a global terrorist by the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee.

India thanked Australia for co-sponsoring the listing proposal of Masood Azhar along with the US, the UK, France and other friendly countries.

The Indian delegation was led by Mahaveer Singhvi, Joint Secretary (Counter-Terrorism), Ministry of External Affairs, while the Australian delegation was led by Paul Foley, Australia’s Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism.”

“The two sides agreed to further deepen counter-terrorism cooperation through mutual capacity-building efforts, mutual legal assistance, regular exchange of information, sharing of best practices on countering extremism and radicalisation,” the release said.

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“The bilateral Joint Working Group deliberated upon the terrorist threats worldwide and in their respective regions including the problem of cross-border terrorism,” it said. Pixabay

It said that cooperation in multilateral fora was also discussed.

Also Read: Stop Using Social Media To Spread Hate, UN Calls For Action

During the visit, Mahaveer Singhvi also called on Tony Sheehan, Deputy Secretary (International Security), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia.

The next meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism shall be held in India at a mutually convenient date, the release said. (IANS)