Australian Rocks Confirm That Life On Earth Is 3.5 Billion Years Old

Science has shown that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. But what about the life that exists on it? Since 2006, we've thought that biological activity in the form of stromatolites — ancient layered geological structures — first appeared here 3.5 billion years ago, and now we have even more evidence to back that up.

Scientists went to the Strelley Pool Formation in in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to check out the sulphur in rock formations that resulted from biological activity. They've looked at these deposits before, but this time they used a different technique — analysing the distribution of isotopes in each layer rather than on the whole — and their findings corroborated the previous conclusion. Ars Technica explains:

Many of the differences were associated with inclusions of organic material within the rock. Similar values were found in iron-sulfur compounds that had precipitated out. The large positive values, the authors suggested, are an indication that the original source of the sulfur was probably from the atmosphere, consistent with what we know of its likely composition during the Archean era.

It seems life might not just be older than dirt. They could be as old as rocks. [Ars Technica]

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Comments

    Oh no it isn't, says the church. Our book of everything says otherwise and facts have no relevance

      "Facts have no relevance" - I'm not sure what you mean by this.

      I believe the Earth is not 4.5 billion years old and I always find it amusing when I hear random figures of the earth being that old. All of the methods in which they say how old something is (carbon dating etc) have been proven to be inaccurate.

        I always find it amusing when people read the peer reviewed work of scientists that have dedicated their lives to understand a topic and call their conclusions "random".

        Why do you believe this Alex? Is it because you have come up with a better technique for dating rocks, or is it because someone else who similarly lacks any expertise (and doesn't mind a bit of one-on-one with the odd minor) has told you as much? I thought so, douche.

        You simply haven't researched it enough alex. Its not particularly complicated to understand radiometric dating, obviously radioactive elements have a half life and decay, and some simple maths will lead you to an answer similar to these scientists.

        so how old do you think the world is? and why?

      Look, I know what pepee63 said sounds outrageous and irrational, but let me explain the truth about the universe. Every time you see a something that's inconsistent with my religion, a wizard did it. By which I mean God. Earth appears to be 4.5 billion years old? A wizard/God did it. 3.5 billion year old life? Wizgod.

        My point was that dating techniques arguably can be incorrect and scientists don't agree on timeframes themselves. No one appears to agree on the same thing so how can any of them prove something to be "factual"?

        We're quickly getting to the point where you can't claim a wizard did it.
        In 10 years time, it was accomplished using nanites.

      Everyone has their opinions, but I do encourage you to read "the book of everything" I was paralysed and unable to move with no hope of anything, I am now walking through the power of Christ, I understand you have opinions and your facts, but here is my fact that "book of everything" is one of the truest records or information in the world and I have become a better person because of it. I belong to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I am a mormon

        LMAO thank you for the laugh

          Was that a Mormon ? Or moron?

          Lol that actually helped my headache. Thanks.

          But I must also point out that the human mind with the right engouragment can overcome many challenges. Mind over matter. Im sure that and medical science is what helped you walk again.

            I'm not sure who's worse, the ultra-religious ones or the vehemently anti-religious ones who actually picked the fight. As bad as each other.

            Pushing a belief on someone is a bad idea folks. I believe in evolution, the big bang etc, and I don't believe in any religion (despite being raised with one).

            You can be a jerk whether you're religious or an atheist. As we can see if we read the comments here.

        What, you think God changed His grand plan just for you? Your paralysis and eventual recovery was all part of His plan from the beginning. Would have happened no matter what you tried to do. Has absolutely nothing to do with what was written in a book or how old the Earth is.

        Your faith (and, to be fair, my own faith) is irrelevant on the subject of geology and the next best source of information is scientific enquiry. I was raised Roman Catholic and still identify with that religion. I'm a Christian.

    I'm sorry but the bible clearly states that the earth is 6,000 years old. You can run all the experiments that you like but there is no more powerful truth than the word of our lord & saviour!

    /sarcasm

      Ignoring the church, synagogue, mosque, and temple the eternal message should be "be nice to each other for a change".

      So you're saying you're going to believe what uneducated people (who thought the earth was flat and didn't understand science) wrote in a book 2000 years ago? Rightio. I just suppose in 2000 years time people are going to be praising Harry Potter for saving the world and defeating Voldemort.

        Your right... we should burn every piece of written history conceived prior to the late 1500s because by today's standards none of them were educated or understood "science"

        All hail Harry, slayer of Voldemort

        God sent us his cousin Harry Potter to defeat the evil Voldemort. Praise the lord for allowing Harry to die for us, then be reborn again. Also praise the grey prophet J.K Rollowing

      Blah Blah Blah can religious people never have a conversation without mentioning god........6 thousand years old you & your creations babble.

        It was an anti-religious guy. He used the word 'sarcasm' at the end. Have you heard of it?

    There was a big bang that instigated the universe as we know it. I can sort of understand how humans came billions of years after some ancient life form but why did anything come alive in the first place?

      "Why"? You're implying a motive, and a motive implies someone/something had that motive. It's quite possible that reality/existence/the universe "just is" and nobody/nothing had a yearning to create it to begin with. Perhaps you actually meant to say "How?" rather than "why?" to which science can and does have a pretty good explanation for how life went from not existing to existing. I'm sorry, I'm too lazy (and am supposed to be working) to search for those answers though - but google "primordial earth" "amino acids" and "how does science explain the beginnings of life on earth". It has something to do with amino acid soup and lightning and an experiment who's results were recently rediscovered and reanalysed.

        Hmm, I jumped ahead in my thoughts on that last post. Science can't ever prove or disprove that some supernatural being or force exists (i.e. can't disprove God). If you believe in such a thing, more power to you. But if you believe in something more concrete like that the earth is only at most 10,000 years old, that is something science can (and does) easily disprove. Or, another example, that life can't be produced on a lifeless planet by natural processing without a helping hand from a supernatural being/force.

        But even if you successfully convince me that a supernatural being has had a hand in our universe's creation, that still doesn't prove that Yahweh/Jehovah of the bible exists or that the earth is less than 10,000 years old.

      Ultimately we'll be able to answer the question of why from a scientific stand point. For example, viruses are classified as without life, yet there's a growing movement inside the scientific community suggesting that some forms of virus are 'becoming alive' for lack of a better term. They still won't be 'living' according to our standard measures, but due to the depth of their complexity, perhaps this can go some way towards explaining the steps between non-life and life. For me, being able to answer those fundamental questions through science would be enough of an answer to the why question. For other people, they'll still want to turn to 'God' for a more 'meaningful' answer to the question of why.

      A popular theory is that we were missing a few vital chemicals for the recipe of life, an asteroid hit earth containing said chemicals, allowing the breeding ground for life. Said asteroid probably didn't hurt earth until a few hundred million years into earths creation.

    I just did an interesting calculation.
    Assuming the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, if I were to represent the period of time from when my grandfather was born to when my children die (i.e the period of time that people I have actually met will affect the Earth - lets say 200yrs) as a 0.5mm wide vertical mark (the narrowest mark I can make with my 0.5mm clutch pencil) on a line graph of the age of the Earth, the graph would be 11.25km long (4.5e9/200*0.5/1e6=11.25). This reminds me what an insignificant period of time we are here for.
    If the 0.5mm mark represented the existence of mankind (let's say for argument's sake 40,000 years) then the graph would be 6.25m long. This means that if mankind were to continue on Earth for another 40,000 years, our period of existence could be represented by a 1mm mark on 6.25m line.
    For me this helps to keep things in perspective.
    Dear Jeebus, can you please check my calcs.

      Like I needed another reason to feel small and insignificant on a Wednesday afternoon!!

    My religion says that this very likely is accurate. Based on the fundamental beliefs of my creed--that all truths are derived from the consistent observation, testing, and repeat-ability of what we know--I can have faith in it all. My religion says so, respect that. I respect your right to believe what you believe, respect mine. And know that my religion is called science.

    No where in any closely original bible does it state that the earth is 6000 years old, and if you are relying on the lossy conversion from source languages, which most people know have no direct word equivalent, so the process of taking the bible in its original language to English is a very lossy process, worse then taking a radio recording converting to wave then convert to mp3 and then convert that to AAC you will here alot of noise and artifacts, well language is a lot worse, people take missing translations and make :educated guesses at the word equivalent to make a sentence sound logical.

    now for anyone with some history on the bible, who wrote it and where they speaking a language that was both writen and verbal, because that already is disproving most of the Modern errors of the bible translations

      Doesn't matter, there's still plenty of other things wrong with the bible.

      Hell, the guy who did the Calculations didn't even get it correct from the biblical genealogy that he did have.

    Interesting. I was just thinking just about 2 hours before reading this today that I have seen heaps of documentaries that talk about the start of life but they all assume that trees were present first. Where did the trees come from?

      dude, you're watching some seriously dubious documentaries then.
      It's been very well established that primordial life was single celled organisms.
      A single cell don't make a tree or nothing.

        This is why good education at school is paramount. I love it when people talk religion, it just makes me laugh so hard.

    Aaaany way.
    Leaving religious notions aside....
    I've been to one of the stromatolite pools over in WA. (not this specific one, and there are a few)
    It's quite surreal to look upon these things and to think about how primitive and primordial they are.
    You get a vague sense of looking waaaaay back in time.
    They don't run around much though, so it's all a very peaceful thing.

    Agree with you "just this guy". I've been to the formation in Shark Bay, WA, and it truly is a peaceful and humbling experience. Everyone should visit Shark Bay to just get some perspective and contrast with our life today compared to life then. There's something amazing about peering down at a life form so ancient!

    OK here's one for you. Time is not constant it is relative to the observer. Now with is in mind time is also affected by gravity etc, so in theory as the universe expands from the big bang time begins to slow down.

    It is only through those that worked hard against religion that we have the scientific developments of today. Religion has been nothing but a hinderance on humanity. Let's just be nice to each other and continue working on finding out "How" we are here instead of trying to justify "Why" we are here.

      Yes all those hard working individuals like Capernicus, Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Bohrs and Darwin all fought long and hard against the closed minded religious folk to bring us huge advancements across all scientific fields.... oh wait.... no. All of these men professed a strong belief in a religion that states that a single being influenced the beginnings of life

        Might wanna check your history there. Copernicus delayed publication of his works out of fear of the Church, Galileo was ex-communicated, and Einstein and Darwin were agnostic at most

          My history is just fine. There are plenty of notes to confirm Einstein's faith and Darwin is buried under the church in England where he was a very respected member... he went as far as publicly denouncing his own theory of evolution

    I feel embarrassed all these years.. No longer religious.

    Now my family needs to know.......

    So many trolls, stop feeding them!

    Just pointing out the fact that out of all the comments here only 3 are pro religion while the majority of the remainder including the op are just negative hate driven preaching - ironic that these same people are the one's who will bitch and moan about how much the hate being preached at

      I contributed to the anti side of things but to play devils advocate, maybe the story of genesis is a metaphor for the process of evolution. Big bang = then there was light and so on?

      Sputnik - "preachers" of science have to publish their "preachings" to the world, have them read and reviewed by their colleagues/ peers/ general public. Their "preachings" tend to have observable, repeatable tests with consistent results.
      Not so much with the bible I would say...

      oh also - i would take these bitches and moaners anyday over your preachers - at least abusing little boys isn't their favourite passtime (I assume)

    Jesus loves you all :)

      Thankyou Chris. While I don't personally believe that Jesus from c. ~30BC was the offspring of an all-powerful god, I appreciate the sentiment and respect that you believe he was and take comfort from it.

      'Be excellent to each other!'

      I'm sorry I take it all back I was not aware that all these "preachers" of science that have posted here are published...

      My comment regarding people preaching was not directed at the scientist publishing their results it was at those people like you who can only back your comments with equally ignorant comments about child abusers - ever cared too compare a list of registered sex offenders based on their religion?

    You know whats really cool.... Lions.... LIONS... ARE... AWESOME!

    Regarding the Biblical claims of the earth's age: THERE IS NONE! The creation of the Earth that Creationists uphold was a claim made by the Irish bishop Ussher who published a book in 1654. He used numerology. It has never been formally adopted by amy major religion as creed or doctrine.

    So when someone claims the earth was created Oct. 31, 4004 BC - ask them to show you THEIR proof. They can not even ind it in the Bible and more than likely NEVER HEARD OF USSHER!

    Get aty least a little education about your own beliefs,.

    Alex, look what you caught. Next time put less bait on your hook. Even I could not find the time to read all. Just glad the Harry potter comments die out very quickly.

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