Intelligent Design News Origin Of Life

Oldest fossils found in Greenland shrink time for origin of life

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artist’s impression of Hadean era/Tim Bertelink

From Reuters:

If confirmed as fossilized communities of bacteria known as stromatolites –

rather than a freak natural formation – the lumps would pre-date fossils
found in Australia as the earliest evidence of life on Earth by 220 million

“This indicates the Earth was no longer some sort of hell 3.7 billion years ago,” lead author Allen Nutman, of the University of Wollongong, told Reuters of the findings that were published in the journal Nature. More.

From Maria Gallucci at Mashable,

“This potentially pushes back our understanding of the antiquity of life on Earth, which is really quite astounding,” Abigail Allwood, a research scientist and astrobiologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, told Mashable.

If it is true that life existed by ~3.7 billion years ago during the Hadean [(> 4,000 Ma)], it evolved very quickly after Earth became habitable. We are left with only a couple hundred million years for life to develop. Considering the improbabilities of the origin of life, that’s a very short period for life to have happened without intelligent direction.

The ways researchers try to get around that problem will sound like a day at the circus.

But the question is, will the findings hold up? Some of these very early finds don’t. See, for example, World’s oldest microfossils [ 3.46 BA] are not life forms after all. The new term in such cases is “pseudofossils.”

See also: What we know and don’t know about the origin of life

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5 Replies to “Oldest fossils found in Greenland shrink time for origin of life

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    a few notes:

    There are chemical signatures for life up to 3.8 billion years ago and indications from Banded Iron Formations tentatively push the estimate for earliest life on earth up to 4 billion years ago

    U-rich Archaean sea-floor sediments from Greenland – indications of +3700 Ma oxygenic photosynthesis (2003)

    When Did Life First Appear on Earth? – Fazale Rana – December 2010
    Excerpt: The primary evidence for 3.8 billion-year-old life consists of carbonaceous deposits, such as graphite, found in rock formations in western Greenland. These deposits display an enrichment of the carbon-12 isotope. Other chemical signatures from these formations that have been interpreted as biological remnants include uranium/thorium fractionation and banded iron formations. Recently, a team from Australia argued that the dolomite in these formations also reflects biological activity, specifically that of sulfate-reducing bacteria.

    When did oxygenic photosynthesis evolve? – Roger Buick – 2008
    Excerpt:,, U–Pb data from ca 3.8?Ga metasediments suggest that this metabolism could have arisen by the start of the geological record. Hence, the hypothesis that oxygenic photosynthesis evolved well before the atmosphere became permanently oxygenated seems well supported.

    “We get that evidence from looking at carbon 12 to carbon 13 analysis. And it tells us that in Earth’s oldest (sedimentary) rock, which dates at 3.80 billion years ago, we find an abundance for the carbon signature of living systems. Namely, that life prefers carbon 12. And so if you see a higher ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 13 that means that carbon has been processed by life. And it is that kind of evidence that tells us that life has been abundant on earth as far back as 3.80 billion years ago (when water was first present on earth).,,, And that same carbon 12 to carbon 13 analysis tells us that planet earth, over it entire 4.5662 billion year history has never had prebiotics. Prebiotics would have a higher ratio of carbon 13 to carbon 12. All the carbonaceous material, we see in the entire geological record of the earth, has the signature of being post-biotic not pre-biotic. Which means planet earth never had a primordial soup. And the origin of life on earth took place in a geological instant” (as soon as it was possible for life to exist on earth).
    Dr. Hugh Ross – Origin Of Life Paradox (No prebiotic chemical signatures)- video (40:10 minute mark)

    The Sudden Appearance Of Life On Earth (3.9 billion years ago) – video
    Stephen Mojzsis, a geologist at the University of Colorado, searches for the earliest life forms on the planet by examining minerals in ancient oceanic sediments.

    Evidence of photosynthetic life is also implied in oldest Banded Iron Formations (ca. 3.8 to 4.0 Byr-ago)

    Iron in Primeval Seas Rusted by Bacteria – Apr. 23, 2013
    Excerpt: The oldest known iron ores were deposited in the Precambrian period and are up to four billion years old. ,,,
    This research not only provides the first clear evidence that microorganisms were directly involved in the deposition of Earth’s oldest iron formations; it also indicates that large populations of oxygen-producing cyanobacteria were at work in the shallow areas of the ancient oceans, while deeper water still reached by the light (the photic zone) tended to be populated by anoxyenic or micro-aerophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria which formed the iron deposits.,,,

    Life’s history in iron – Nov. 7, 2014
    Excerpt: A new study examines how Earth’s oldest iron formations could have been formed before oxygenic photosynthesis played a role in oxidizing iron.,,,
    Microorganisms that photosynthesize in the absence of oxygen assimilate carbon by using iron oxide (Fe(II)) as an electron donor instead of water. While oxygenic photosynthesis produces oxygen in the atmosphere (in the form of dioxygen), anoxygenic photosynthesis adds an electron to Fe(II) to produce Fe(III).
    “In other words, they oxidize the iron,” explains Pecoits. “This finding is very important because it implies that this metabolism was already active back in the early Archean (ca. 3.8 Byr-ago).”
    of note, there are no surviving rocks older than 3.8 Byr-ago, so this finding strongly implies life has been present on earth from the beginning as soon as it was possible for earth to host life:
    – Archean
    Excerpt: ,,,a period of intense meteorite bombardment in the period 4.0-3.8 Ga pulverized all rocks at the Earth’s surface during the period. Some think that the similar age of the oldest surviving rocks and the “late heavy bombardment” is not coincidental.

    Isotopic Evidence For Life Immediately Following Late Bombardment – Graph

    Of related note: Here is a sobering assessment of the state of Origin of Life research by a leading Chemist:

    “All right, now let’s assemble the Dream Team. We’ve got good professors here, so let’s assemble the Dream Team. Let’s further assume that the world’s top 100 synthetic chemists, top 100 biochemists and top 100 evolutionary biologists combined forces into a limitlessly funded Dream Team. The Dream Team has all the carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids and nucleic acids stored in freezers in their laboratories… All of them are in 100% enantiomer purity. [Let’s] even give the team all the reagents they wish, the most advanced laboratories, and the analytical facilities, and complete scientific literature, and synthetic and natural non-living coupling agents. Mobilize the Dream Team to assemble the building blocks into a living system – nothing complex, just a single cell. The members scratch their heads and walk away, frustrated…
    So let’s help the Dream Team out by providing the polymerized forms: polypeptides, all the enzymes they desire, the polysaccharides, DNA and RNA in any sequence they desire, cleanly assembled. The level of sophistication in even the simplest of possible living cells is so chemically complex that we are even more clueless now than with anything discussed regarding prebiotic chemistry or macroevolution. The Dream Team will not know where to start. Moving all this off Earth does not solve the problem, because our physical laws are universal.
    You see the problem for the chemists? Welcome to my world. This is what I’m confronted with, every day.“
    James Tour – one of the top ten leading chemists in the world
    “The Origin of Life: An Inside Story” – March 2016 Lecture

  2. 2
    J-Mac says:

    “Considering the improbabilities of the origin of life, that’s a very short period for life to have happened without intelligent direction.”

    If that fact wasn’t good enough, the so-called “scientists” who believe in abiogenesis, like Szostak, and his followers (Coyne, Moran, Dawkins etc) have not provided one piece of evidence that swayed them to believe that life originated on its own. And yet, for no particular reason, they are almost ready to die in the defense of abiogenesis. Call it what you want but to me this meets the criteria of blind faith according to their own definitions they often apply to ID crowd…

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest to stromatolites: Stromatolites show “that the same basic physical processes of diffusion and competition seen today were happening billions of years ago”. In other words, stromatolites give us no evidence for evolution over billions of years

    Odd Geometry of Bacteria May Provide New Way to Study Earth’s Oldest Fossils – May 2010
    Excerpt: Known as stromatolites, the layered rock formations are considered to be the oldest fossils on Earth.,,,That the spacing pattern corresponds to the mats’ metabolic period — and is also seen in ancient rocks — shows that the same basic physical processes of diffusion and competition seen today were happening billions of years ago,,,

    3.5 billion-year-old ecosystem found – November 12, 2013
    Excerpt: “Mound-like deposits created by ancient bacteria, called stromatolites, and microfossils of bacteria have previously been discovered in this region. However, a phenomenon called microbially induced sedimentary structures, or MISS, had not previously been seen in rocks of this great age.”
    MISS were created by microbial mats as the microbial communities responded to changes in physical sediment dynamics, Professor Wacey said.
    “A common example would be the binding together of sediment grains by microbes to prevent their erosion by water currents,” he said. “The significance of MISS is that they not only demonstrate the presence of life, but also the presence of whole microbial ecosystems that could co-ordinate with one another to respond to changes in their environment.”,,,
    The team described the various MISS from the ancient coastal flats preserved in the Dresser Formation and found close similarities in both form and preservation style to MISS in younger rocks.

    Geobiologist Noffke Reports Signs of Life that Are 3.48 Billion Years Old – 11/11/13
    Excerpt: the mats woven of tiny microbes we see today covering tidal flats were also present as life was beginning on Earth. The mats, which are colonies of cyanobacteria, can cause unusual textures and formations in the sand beneath them. Noffke has identified 17 main groups of such textures caused by present-day microbial mats, and has found corresponding structures in geological formations dating back through the ages.

    Scientists find signs of life in Australia dating back 3.48 billion years – Thu November 14, 2013
    Excerpt: “We conclude that the MISS in the Dresser Formation record a complex microbial ecosystem, hitherto unknown, and represent one of the most ancient signs of life on Earth.”… “this MISS displays the same associations that are known from modern as well as fossil” finds. The MISS also shows microbes that act like “modern cyanobacteria,”

    Moreover, as far back as we can go in the fossil record, bacteria reveal this same extreme pattern of stasis as was revealed by stromatolites:

    Excerpt: These (fossilized bacteria) cells are actually very similar to present day cyanobacteria. This is not only true for an isolated case but many living genera of cyanobacteria can be linked to fossil cyanobacteria. The detail noted in the fossils of this group gives indication of extreme conservation of morphology, more extreme than in other organisms.

    Static evolution: is pond scum the same now as billions of years ago?
    Excerpt: But what intrigues (paleo-biologist) J. William Schopf most is lack of change. Schopf was struck 30 years ago by the apparent similarities between some 1-billion-year-old fossils of blue-green bacteria and their modern microbial counterparts. “They surprisingly looked exactly like modern species,” Schopf recalls. Now, after comparing data from throughout the world, Schopf and others have concluded that modern pond scum differs little from the ancient blue-greens. “This similarity in morphology is widespread among fossils of [varying] times,” says Schopf. As evidence, he cites the 3,000 such fossils found;

    Scientists discover organism that hasn’t evolved in more than 2 billion years – February 3, 2015
    Excerpt: Using cutting-edge technology, they found that the bacteria look the same as bacteria of the same region from 2.3 billion years ago — and that both sets of ancient bacteria are indistinguishable from modern sulfur bacteria found in mud off of the coast of Chile.

    Moreover, for as far back as we can go in the fossil record on the molecular level of bacteria, the same extreme pattern of stasis is found:

    The Paradox of the “Ancient” (250 Million Year Old) Bacterium Which Contains “Modern” Protein-Coding Genes: Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ;
    “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.”

    These following studies by Dr. Cano on ancient bacteria preceded Dr. Vreeland’s work:

    “Raul J. Cano and Monica K. Borucki discovered the bacteria preserved within the abdomens of insects encased in pieces of amber. In the last 4 years, they have revived more than 1,000 types of bacteria and microorganisms — some dating back as far as 135 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs.,,, In October 2000, another research group used many of the techniques developed by Cano’s lab to revive 250-million-year-old bacteria from spores trapped in salt crystals. With this additional evidence, it now seems that the “impossible” is true.”
    – per physics forum

    And let’s not forget, Darwinists have yet to demonstrate that it is even possible to change one type of bacteria into another type of bacteria:

    Scant search for the Maker
    Excerpt: But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms.
    – Alan H. Linton – emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol.

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    Those Greenland rocks were probably much closer to the Australian rocks way back when lol. Or else Mrs/Mr Common Ancestor was a very strong swimmer.

  5. 5
    rvb8 says:

    Actually ppolish it means the environments both of these primordial creatures lived in were very similar, hence giving rise to the same evolved answers to, the environmental constraints.
    ‘We are left with only a couple of hundred million years for life to develop.’ Is that all? And;’Mrs/Mr Common Ancestor was avery strong swimmer.’ See above about similar environments.
    And, considering man became less of a troglodyte only 4000 year ago, and considering that really only happened a couple of hundred years ago(enlightenment), 200 mill, sounds like enough time. It was more than enough for the dinosaurs to come and go, and if we last that long? Heh:)

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