Challenging earth’s oldest fossils: Critics say ‘there’s absolutely nothing biological about them’

sxmm leske q nn jgo
Image credit: Abigail Allwood

Two years ago, researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia shook the science world by claiming to have discovered 3.7 billion-year-old fossils in a rock formation in Greenland, a finding that pushed back the origin of life on Earth by 200 million years. New research is now casting doubt on this discovery, with scientists saying the rock structures are of non-biological origin.

In the original 2016 study, geologist Allen Nutman and colleagues identified cone-like structures, ranging between 1 and 4 centimeters in length, in 3.7-billion-year-old rock found in the Isua formation in southwest Greenland. These structures, the researchers said, were evidence of stromatolites—sedimentary formations created by the layered growth of microbial organisms in shallow waters.

Related article:  Viewpoint: No, cell phones aren't causing people to grow horns

Abigail C. Allwood, a geologist from the California Institute of Technology, Minik T. Rosing, a geochemist at the University of Copenhagen, and colleagues decided to visit the Isua formation in Greenland and take a look at these rocks for themselves. Their resulting analysis, published [October 17] in Nature, suggests Nutman and his colleagues got it wrong. The observed structures in the rocks are just products of tectonic processes, they say, and there’s absolutely nothing biological about them.

But if there’s anything Nutman, Allwood, and Rosing do agree on, it’s that the formations were created in a marine environment.

Read full, original post: World’s Oldest Fossils Aren’t Actually Fossils, New Research Suggests

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend