It has now been reported that there may be a new way to learn more about life on the old Earth. A group of scientists has lately uncovered minuscule traces of bacterial and algal life – preserved in crystals of halite going back to 830 million years in the past. Finding a hitherto unknown source of rock salt might help us better understand ancient saltwater ecosystems. Halite represents sodium chloride, aka rock salt.
The creatures encased inside may also still be living. There are ramifications for ancient life searches not only on Earth but on other planets like Mars, where massive salt concentrations have been discovered as proof of old, large-scale flowing water reserves due to this groundbreaking research.
The creatures don’t resemble anything you could imagine. Previously, billions of year old microfossils were discovered crushed into rock strata like shale. Organic stuff cannot be preserved by salt in the very same manner.
Microorganisms have also been discovered in contemporary and current habitats where halite develops, according to researchers. Microbes, including bacteria, fungus, as well as algae, have mostly been discovered to thrive in these very salty settings.
A few ancient microbes have been found in gypsum as well as halite fluid pockets, although the majority are contemporary or recent. There is significant debate over whether these archaic creatures are of the identical age as the halite, though, because of the technique used to detect them. Scientists claim they don’t know enough about germs’ ability to survive over long periods of time.
According to experts, the Browne Formation is a good analogy for occurrences on Mars, where comparable chemistries might be discovered. As a result of this discovery, we may have new ways to identify these species without damaging or disturbing the materials, which might help us learn about Earth’s own past.
The findings were published in Geology.