From Rebecca Boyle at Quanta:
From a seam in one of these hills, a jumble of ancient, orange-Creamsicle rock spills forth: a deposit called the Apex Chert. Within this rock, viewable only through a microscope, there are tiny tubes. Some look like petroglyphs depicting a tornado; others resemble flattened worms. They are among the most controversial rock samples ever collected on this planet, and they might represent some of the oldest forms of life ever found.
Last month, researchers lobbed another salvo in the decades-long debate about the nature of these forms. They are indeed fossil life, and they date to 3.465 billion years ago, according to John Valley, a geochemist at the University of Wisconsin. If Valley and his team are right, the fossils imply that life diversified remarkably early in the planet’s tumultuous youth.
So there was no long, slow period of Darwinian evolution to get to that stage.
“I was taught when I was young that it would take billions and billions of years for life to form. But I have not been able to find any basis for those sorts of statements,” said Valley. “I think it’s quite possible that life emerged within a few million years of when conditions became habitable. From the point of view of a microbe, a million years is a really long time, yet that’s a blink of an eye in geologic time.”
Valley was taught Darwinism. And Darwinism is not correct account o the origin and development of life.
If there was no mass sterilization at 3.9 billion years ago, or if a few massive asteroid strikes confined the destruction to a single hemisphere, then Earth’s oldest ancestors may have been here from the haziest days of the planet’s own birth. And that, in turn, makes the notion of life elsewhere in the cosmos seem less implausible. Life might be able to withstand horrendous conditions much more readily than we thought. It might not need much time at all to take hold. It might arise early and often and may pepper the universe yet. Its endless forms, from tubemaking microbes to hunkering slime, may be too small or simple to communicate the way life does on Earth — but they would be no less real and no less alive. More.
Maybe. Maybe They’re All Out There. But we’ve no evidence for that at all. We do have evidence for the Apex Chert.
So hadn’t we better start by acknowledging the implications of the fact that what Valley and all the rest of us have been taught about life on Earth is incorrect?
Of course, there may be some pushback on whether the Chert contains fossils or not.
See also: World’s “oldest microfossils” are not life forms after all (Chert, 2015)
Researchers: Bacteria fossils predate the origin of oxygen
UCLA researchers: Life got started shortly after planet cooled