Stromatolite fossil dating

This loss of snow and ice concerns many people, but on the other hand, it has been a boon for the scientific community.

It has exposed a new outcropping of rocks, giving geologists first-time access to a rare window of the earth’s distant past.

The Greenland stromatolites, which measure one to four centimetres in height, were laid down in a shallow sea, giving scientists a glimpse of the environment in which earth’s earliest single cell life formed and thrived.

“It tells us a little bit more information about how rapidly life evolved on our planet and when and where that happened,” Van Kranendok said.

“It’s needle-in-a-haystack kind of stuff.” Discovered near Greenland’s southwestern coast, the 3.7-billion-year-old stromatolite fossils were exposed by the recent melting of a perennial snow patch.

“People have been walking through that area for many, many years,” Van Kranendok, who co-authored the team’s study, said.

Climate change has triggered the excessive melting of ice and snow in western Greenland.Finding Archean rock is rare because they tend to be heavily twisted and altered, but the researchers hit a stroke of luck when they found an outcrop of rocks under a melted patch of snow in Greenland.Wavy lines in the rocks revealed evidence of stromatolites, formed from thin layers of the microbial communities that trap and bind sediment.Scientists have found the oldest known remnant of life, a fossil dating back a staggering 3.7 billion years.If confirmed, the date would support the theory that life took root in just a blink of an eye after the planet’s birth.

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Such early life would also make life on Mars seem less of a long shot.

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