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3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' Were Not Created By Life Forms 69

sciencehabit writes: What are the oldest fossils on Earth? For a long time, a 3.46-billion-year-old rock from Western Australia seemed to hold the record. A 1993 Science paper (abstract) suggested that the Apex chert contained tiny, wormy structures that could have been fossilized cell walls of some of the world's first cyanobacteria. But now there is more evidence that these structures have nothing to do with life. The elongated filaments were instead created by minerals forming in hydrothermal systems, researchers report (abstract). After the minerals were formed, carbon glommed on to the edges, leaving behind an organic signature that looked suspiciously like cell walls.
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3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' Were Not Created By Life Forms

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  • After all, when you're fighting a losing battle, even a hand up from science is a welcome blessing.
    • by garyisabusyguy ( 732330 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @09:26PM (#49516345)

      More like the Church of Robotology now that there is conclusive evidence that machines were first and created all life

      Suck it meatbags!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Suck it ugly bags of mostly water!

        FTFY []

        • I do believe you missed the entirely appropriate Futurama reference, good sir.

    • by quenda ( 644621 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @10:02PM (#49516525)

      Nothing has been overturned here. Just a question settled, perhaps.

      Full disclosure: the lead author is Martin Brasier, who just happens to be the guy who discovered slightly younger 3.4 billion year old fossils just 20km away. []

      • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @10:18PM (#49516599)

        Ah, so no possibility of any confirmation bias there, of course.

        I really hate it when headlines declare something like this as a fact, when clearly everyone involved is just promoting competing theories. The headline should really read 3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' May Not Have Been Created By Life Forms. Just because someone published a paper disputing one theory and promoting another doesn't mean we can automatically assume it to be factual.

        • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:33AM (#49517451)

          The headline should really read 3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' May Not Have Been Created By Life Forms.

          And then apply the rule that "may" and "may not" have exactly the same literal meaning. Any headline that contains anything like "may" or "may not" is screaming sensationalism. "Scientists dispute oldest fossils" is informative, "Fossils may not have been created by life" is identical to "Fossils may have been created by life", and is therefore meaningless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )

        Nothing has been overturned here. Just a question settled, perhaps.

        And this is the difference between science and religion. Since its science, we say, "we were wrong - but its cool, now we can move on to find out the truth..

        If this were religion, we'd be fighting tooth and nail, and there would be smear jobs about the scientists liberal tendencies, and stories going around on "How the lord said life was 3.46 billion years old, so it damn well WAS 3.46 million year old fossils.

        Teach the controversy brothers!

  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by youngone ( 975102 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @09:52PM (#49516457)
    Australia has some really old rocks alright. My favourite is this [] Named after some hills in South Australia. Some weird animals there. (If they are even animals. Or plants. Both?).
    • Re:Old? Old. (Score:5, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @11:11PM (#49516807) Journal

      Australia has lots of weird animals. Hell, they've got moths down there that are as big as cocker spaniels. Animals that look like Jim Henson rejects. They've got freakin' yowies down there that make Sasquatch look like Pee-Wee Herman. I didn't actually see a yowie, but after I saw something that looked like a three-way cross between a rat, a jackrabbit and Dwayne Johnson, I don't doubt for a second that they exist. I went there a few years ago and visited a huge national park and it was like Land of the Lost.

      I mean, it's a nice place. Nice people. They find out you're from Chicago and you won't have to pay for another drink. Great looking women. Good food. If it wasn't for the annoying accents, you'd think you were somewhere on the West Coast. But the wildlife, man. Way too spooky for me.

      • by NoMaster ( 142776 ) on Monday April 20, 2015 @11:32PM (#49516901) Homepage Journal

        I saw something that looked like a three-way cross between a rat, a jackrabbit and Dwayne Johnson

        So, apart from that, what did you think of Melbourne?

        • So, apart from that, what did you think of Melbourne?

          He seemed like a nice enough guy, but after eight buckets of lager he wanted to fight everyone in the place. Fortunately the bartender kept a tranq gun behind the bar for these apparently frequent occasions.

      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        Seems like those nice people did a pretty good job of keeping you away from the drop bears, based on the fact that you still seem to have all your entrails. Be easy for a drop bear to get a fella' as he's staggering back from the bar...
      • by jfengel ( 409917 )

        Chicago? Why?

        When I was in Ireland, I never bought another drink once people discovered I'd been to Boston. Which I though was odd, but it made a kind of sense given the large Irish population. It was like a kind of Irish promised land.

        What's the Aussie connection to the Windy City?

        • What's the Aussie connection to the Windy City?

          They think we're all connected to the Mafia, of course. You know, Al Capone and all that stuff. My Italian surname must have fired their imaginations, even though I assured them I hadn't tommygunned anyone in years.

          I had (and this is 100% true) one guy ask me if I thought he could get "work" with the Chicago Mob if he came here. He was a big lad with neck muscles that started above his ears and three different women's names tattooed to his arms. I started t

    • I swear some ancient civilization used Australia as a waste dump and testing grounds for some seriously bad sh** - the frigging Platypus is weird enough but folks forget the damned thing is *poisonous*, too - then add in the rest of the the things that are pretty much post-Apocalypse like the other floral and fauna that are incredibly lethal (e.g., the snakes) and it can make you wonder 'wtf happened here??'
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you avoid the truth, you will erroneously discover something else.

    • The real troll here is the one who modded this funny so it would show up instead of being automatically hidden/collapsed.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat . c om> on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @12:02AM (#49517021) Journal
    ... future descendant might try and argue, by the same reasoning, that the "people" (as we currently call them) in this time were not really alive either... that all we actually are is a bunch of organic compounds arranged in a pattern that suspiciously behaves like what they consider to be life, but actually isn't.
  • Someone already pointed out how the creationists are already going to use this in their favor as evidence that fossils aren't the product or evolution or somesuch.

    But it goes both ways. They often rant about how the scientific literature is biased against anything that goes against the evolution dogma. Although these non-life fossils don't really contradict any OTHER fossil evidence, nevertheless, here we have an example of a publication about exactly the sort of thing that the creationists say would neve

  • To me, at least, it doesn't sound like they had "nothing to do with" life - I wonder if it could be a precursor to life. If mineral formations were forming "cell-wall-like" structures made of nonmetals, that sounds like it might have been a naturally forming scaffold for the formation of the earliest cell walls. Natural small enclosures with attraction to carbon and nonmetals seems like they'd make a really good substrate for infinite separate runs of the natural experiment leading up to the first replicati
  • "3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' Were Not Created By Life Forms"
    That would make them... rocks. Not fossils.

The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.