The Dresser Formation stromatolites have been thought to be of biogenic origin ever since they were discovered in the 1980s.
However, despite strong textural evidence, that theory was unproven for nearly four decades, because scientists hadn’t been able to show the definitive presence of preserved organic matter remains.
“This is an exciting discovery — for the first time, we’re able to show the world that these stromatolites are definitive evidence for the earliest life on Earth,” said Dr. Raphael Baumgartner, a researcher at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at the University of New South Wales and the lead author of a paper published in the journal Geology.
“The discovery is the closest we have come to a ‘smoking gun’ to prove the existence of such ancient life,” said University of New South Wales Professor Martin Van Kranendonk, co-author of the study.
“This represents a major advance in our knowledge of these rocks, in the science of early life investigations generally, and — more specifically — in the search for life on Mars. We now have a new target and new methodology to search for ancient life traces.”