Extraterrestrial life

Mars and the “false fossils” problem

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No, no, this is NOT a broadcast from Moonbat Central! “False” fossils are objects that look like fossils
but aren’t:

A group of astrobiologists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford have identified dozens of processes that “can produce structures that mimic those of microscopic, simple lifeforms that may once have existed on Mars.”

News, “Will the fossils we find on Mars be fakes?” at Mind Matters News (December 4, 2021)

Dr Sean McMahon, Chancellor’s Fellow in Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physic and Astronomy, said: “At some stage a Mars rover will almost certainly find something that looks a lot like a fossil, so being able to confidently distinguish these from structures and substances made by chemical reactions is vital. For every type of fossil out there, there is at least one non-biological process that creates very similar things, so there is a real need to improve our understanding of how these form.”

University of Edinburgh, “Life on Mars search could be misled by false fossils, study says” at ScienceDaily (November 16, 2021) The paper is open access.

It won’t be surprising if we hear heated controversies about whether new finds on Mars are really fossils but that’s a step in the right direction.


Takehome: It happens on Earth too. The trouble is, simple life forms leave only evidence, not messages and the evidence can be hard to identify.

2 Replies to “Mars and the “false fossils” problem

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Some of these fossils and artifacts are fairly convincing.

    https://www.space.com/39294-mars-rover-curiosity-weird-tube-structures.html

    This picture shows some curved tubes sitting on top of a pattern that STRONGLY resembles a stone wall. Volcanos can produce hollow vertical cylinders, but the rectangular and linear breaks in the hollow cylinder are not random. And the little curved things look like remnants of mollusks.

  2. 2
    Belfast says:

    Umpty years ago an image came from the moon which seemed to show ‘2UE’, the name of a Sydney Australia radio station.
    Everyone had a good laugh.
    Those days are past now, and in the past they must remain. More’s the pity.

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