Early life and its implications for astrobiology : a case study from Bitter Springs Chert, Australia
Abstract: Early life research faces additional challenges than those of the study of later life forms. Due to the de-materialization of the earliest rocks, valuable information about the early Earth is forever lost. Furthermore, early life was small and morphologically basic, effectuating abiotic pseudofossils to infiltrate the fossil record. A central theme is the close connection early life research share with astrobiology, manifested by the notion that early terre-strial life research should be conducted with as much vigilance as potential fossil findings from a remote planet. Both fields benefit from a broad-minded approach as the basic building blocks of life, previously thought to be pre-sent in all life forms, might have room for interchangability. Therefore, the biomarkers traditionally searched for might not reveal the full story of life. Petrography, XRF, SEM and FTIR was applied to rocks from Bitter Springs Formation, Australia, in hope to detect biogenic material. Hydrocarbons were detected in one of the samples thro-ugh FTIR analysis, which is a strong indicator for biogenicity. Many structures were found that are most probably bacterial fossils and oncoid structures.
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