Life on Earth might have emerged about 750 million years earlier than previously thought, new research suggests.
Researchers have found unusually light isotopes of carbon, a common indicator of life, in the Earth’s oldest mineral deposit, found in the Jack Hills in Western Australia. The carbon dates to more than 4.25 billion years ago, a time known as the Hadean period.”We now have an indication that it might be life,” says mineralogist Thorsten Geisler of the Institute for Mineralogy at the University of Münster in Germany.
Geisler and colleagues dated samples from the Jack Hills area by measuring the abundance of radioactive elements in zircon deposits. They then analysed the concentration of carbon-13 and carbon-12 found in small pieces of diamond and graphite trapped within the zircon (Organic material)
Researchers caution it is too early to draw a definite conclusion.