Geologists have discovered possible evidence of ancient life in rocks that are over 3.7 billion years old. It's an extraordinary find that, if confirmed, would make the fossils within the oldest we have on Earth.
The fossils weren't found any time recently, as they were actually uncovered four years ago but kept under wraps as the geologists investigated their massively important time to research and fact check while on the precipice of something so big. If it's true these fossils are as old as they think they are, they could absolutely alter the basic understanding of the origin of life and humanity as we know it.
Discovered on the southwest coast of Greenland, the fossils are thought by researchers to be stromatolites, or sediment that's been packed together by communities of microbes in shallow water. According to Dr. Allen Nutman, one of the geologists credited with making the discovery, has stated that the possibility of finding older fossils than these is extremely unlikely. In fact, there's plenty of information forthcoming from the investigation that's said to be going into determining the story behind these fossils.
According to Dr. Nutman, the species of microbes involved in the creation of stromatolites could have been formed in the Hadean stage, which actually began about 4.65 billion years ago. When the Hadean period finally ended, a period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment began, and it can be traced to about 3.8 billion years ago.
It's Dr. Nutman's belief that the origins of life could have survived throughout the tumultuous Hadean period all the way through the Late Heavy Bombardment, though how "heavy" the Bombardment actually was is changing all the time, with scientists now discussing the idea that if life didn't begin right after that event, it could have had 100 million years to evolve into what the fossils have become now.
It's all a part of determining the single point of origin for life itself, and going forward Dr. Nutman and partner Dr. Joyce will be looking to disseminate this information from the fossils.