April 1, 2023


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The Big Bang of life hidden in the rocks. Many did not find anything. And they succeeded

If the elements necessary to build life appear, they will automatically evolve in the appropriate environment – says the professor. Barbara Kremer of the Institute of Paleontology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

WOJCIECH MIKOŁUSZKO: Fossils that paleontologists study are usually skeletons, shells, and other hard tissue remains. The first simple organisms on Earth could not have left anything like this behind. So what are you looking for?
Barbara Cramer: – The first traces of life are organic. But not entirely, only fragmentarily. We often find molecules of fats or sugars, which have changed strongly under the influence of temperature. We also read the shapes of the first cells. It is spherical or thread-like, mineralized with the most common naturally occurring silica. Thanks to her, the remains of organic matter have been well preserved, although, of course, the original content has completely deteriorated. However, if we find traces of carbon isotopes in rocks with values ​​characteristic of life, we can probably conclude that these are the remains of ancient cells.

Where were these things discovered?
The oldest is in Greenland, in rocks 3.8 billion years ago. These are just carbon particles that do not look like cells. Isotopic studies point to the fact that there could once have been life – I emphasize: it could -.

There are few other places on earth where such ruins can be found. From those times, mainly igneous rocks have survived to this day. There will be no fossils in it – traces of life can only be preserved in sedimentary rocks. The oldest sedimentary rocks are found in remote and hard-to-reach places in South Africa and Australia. Only a few researchers get to these places. Fortunately, we are among them.

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We, who is this?
Our group includes a. Józef Kaźmierczak, who was my PhD thesis supervisor.

Policy 11.2023 (3405) dated 07/03/2023; Sciences ProjektPulsar.pl; p.57

Original title of the text: “The Big Bang of Life”