The best evidence yet for the oldest life on Earth is found in odd-shaped, rock-like mounds in Australia that are actually fossils created by microbes 3.4 billion years ago, researchers report.
"It's an ancestor of life. If you think that all life arose on this one planet, perhaps this is where it started," said Abigail Allwood, a researcher at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology and lead author of the new study. It appears Thursday in the journal Nature.
The strange geologic structures - which range from smaller than a fingernail to taller than a man - are exactly the type of early life astrobiologists are looking for on Mars and elsewhere.