ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
* SPACE
 HEALTH
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 ARTS & STYLE
 NATURE
 IN-DEPTH
 ANALYSIS
 myCNN

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

  MULTIMEDIA:
 video
 video archive
 audio
 multimedia showcase
 more services

  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:

  sci-tech > space > story pagecorner  

Australia fossil to help in search for life on Mars

fossil
This fossil contains life forms believed to be 3.46 billion years old

MESSAGE BOARD
Destination Mars
 

September 3, 1999
Web posted at: 4:18 p.m. EDT (2018 GMT)

(CNN) -- A discovery of the fossilized remains of the Earth's oldest lifeforms will help NASA in its search for life on Mars, scientists said Thursday.

The 1.25 meter, "egg carton" shaped rock, retrieved from the remote Australian outback in July, contains life forms believed to be 3.46 billion years old.

"They were the earliest life forms and probably the only form of life on Earth for the best part of two billion years," said Dr. Kath Grey of Macquarie University in New South Wales, a member of the team that discovered the fossil.

During that time, the landscape in Pilbara was a barren landscape of volcanoes and rock.

Grey said that while chemical traces of older organisms had been found in rocks in Greenland, this was the oldest solid evidence of biogenic structures in the world.

The cones in the rock were formed by fossilized layers of bacteria known as stromatolites -- prehistoric blue-green algae -- and were discovered wedged between layers of volcanic rock.

The discovery could provide the key not only to life on Earth but to the evolution of life on Mars.

NASA scientists have already examined the fossil and will be searching for similar structures of fossilized bacteria in Mars -- using the Pilbara rock as a guide -- when they mount the Mars Lander expedition in 2003.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
NASA reveals site for next Mars touchdown
August 25, 1999
Researchers: Mars once hummed with magnetism, like Earth
April 29, 1999
Probe heads for Mars with shovel, microphone
January 4, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Meteorite Home Page (JPL)
Macquarie University
Stromatolites
Fossil Record of the Cyanobacteria
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.