Astrobiologists have been studying a meteorite sample that hit Sri Lanka last year and have now announced that they have found fossils of extraterrestrial microbes in the rock.
Astrobiologists in the United Kingdom have confirmed what may be the most important biological discovery in human history. As such, it must be met with harsh scrutiny and a very skeptical eye; but if their findings are true, they have just found solid evidence of extraterrestrial life.
In December of 2012, a meteorite struck Sri Lanka, and upon initial examination by the Sri Lanka medical research institute, the meteorite was found to be containing fossilized siliceous microalgae; diatoms. As the scientific world viewed the discovery with skepticism, the samples were sent to Cardiff University in Wales, where they have been examined closer. Now, the researchers in Cardiff have come out with the announcement that yes, indeed, the rock is a meteorite of extraterrestrial origin, and it definitely contains fossilized biological structures.
The supposed fossil findings
The researchers tested the rock in two different ways: They tested it to ensure that it did contain the fossilized algae, and then ensured that the rock couldn’t have been terrestrially contaminated, or of terrestrial origin. The research team ultimately discovered that the sample had low levels of nitrogen (common in modern-earthly organisms) but also oxygen isotopes that confirmed the rock was not from earth. As the fossils were also fused with the rock, they see this as solid evidence that the fossils did not come from here.
Obviously, with such a bold claim, the sample needs to be tested and confirmed by many more research teams before we can truly believe in the results; it’s somewhat concerning that the peer reviewed publication which published the findings, the Journal of Cosmology, has come under critical scrutiny in recent years involving other claims of fossilized life in meteors. Their website also looks quite unprofessional, and that usually says a lot.
The fossilized diatom in all its glory. credit: journalofcosmology.com
One possibility as suggested by extremetech’s John Hewitt, is that the microbe fossils may simply look like they’re biological while not actually being fossils. He suggests that such strong proof is more difficult to believe without previously discovered evidence which might have hinted that this finding would one day arrive.
If the claim turns out to be true however, and they would be difficult (though not impossible) to fake, it speaks strongly for panspermia, the idea that life on earth was either accidentally or intentionally created as a result of extraterrestrial life contaminating it. More importantly though, it would tell us that we are not alone in the universe, and that the stars might be teeming with life.