A system of lakes in Argentina has been discovered to host a rare set of microbial communities previously unknown to scientists. Microbial communities form giant piles of rock as they grow, like building coral reefs millimeter by millimeter. The University of Colorado points out that “communities can also provide scientists with unprecedented insight How did life originate on Mars?Which was similar to Earth billions of years ago.”
“If life on Mars had evolved to the fossil level, it would have been like this,” said geologist Brian Hynek, a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, who helped document the ecosystem. “Understanding these modern communities on Earth can tell us what to look for as we search for similar features in Martian rocks.”
More details from CNN:
Stromatolites are Layered rocks Resulting from the growth of blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, through the process of photosynthesis. These structures are considered one of the oldest ecosystems on Earth. According to NASAThis represents the oldest fossil evidence of life on our planet, at least 3.5 billion years ago. “It certainly resembles some of the oldest macrofossils on our planet, and is actually a rare type of environment on modern Earth,” Hynek said.
While stromatolites exist in an oxygen-containing environment, Hynek said he believes the distant layers in the rock receive little oxygen and are actively formed by microbes using anoxygenic photosynthesis. This would make the structures similar to those found on ancient Earth… “We have identified more than 600 Ancient lakes on Mars; Maybe there was an ocean. “So, it was kind of like Earth early on.”
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