Some evidence that life may have originated at least 4.1 billion years ago

Why Evolution Is True

For some reason I missed this paper published last November in Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA by Elizabeth Bell et al. , and it doesn’t seem to have been given a lot of attention by the press. That may be because its conclusions are questionable, and based on a very small sample. But if they’re right, it’s a pretty amazing result, for the authors report the presence of what may be biogenic carbon—that is, carbon derived from living organisms—from the Jack Hills of western Australia, and that carbon was dated at 4.1 billion years old.  Since the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old, and the zircons of the Jack Hills are the oldest known material of terrestrial origin on our planet (4.4 billion years is the oldest sample), the finding of biogenic life in zircons dated at 4.1 billion years means that life may have originated very, very soon…

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