Clements, Robert (Robert.Clements@dva.gov.au)
Fri, 3 Sep 1999 09:48:25 +1000
The following item was delivered to subscribers of the (Australian) ABC's
* WA fossils 'clue to early life on earth'*
Scientists in Western Australia have found what they describe as the most
convincing evidence yet of life on earth three-and-a-half billion years ago.
The fossil stromatolites have been handed over to the Western Australian
The stromatolites were discovred two years ago but geologists have kept the
find under wraps until they were sure of its significance.
A team from the Western Australian Department of Minerals and Energy made
the discovery near Marble Bar in the Pilbara.
They claim the structures are the most convincing evidence yet of ancient
The find has excited scientists both in Austrlia and overseas.
The stromatolites were presented to the WA Museum this morning.
It's interesting to get a couple of good news summaries free in your mailbox
each day: makes you wonder why anyone would pay for a newspaper....
The story was also covered (in some detail) in last night's _Quantum_, a
science program broadcast on the ABC. Good visualisation of the story - not
always a scientific characteristic, unfortunately - which concentrated on
the moving of the crucial samples out of in situ to prevent their less well
controlled theft; but the size of the council of (scientific) elders
assembled to view the site before it was tampered with inspired the
mischievous thought about what a demented creationist with a couple of
grenades could'ave done to the entire field of archeobiology had he/she
known about the group....
A summary of the item (with illustration) is available from the _Quantum_
The implications of this find - if confirmed - is extremely profound for
exobiology research: it makes it clear that relatively complex life
developed extremely quickly in the terrestrial environment; even when this
environment was less than ideal for life (@ least from our perspective). It
certainly suggests that relatively complex life should'ave had the
opportunity the develop on Mars @ that time; & that it should _still_ be
capable of developing in any underice Europan ocean... an appealing
possibility in itself; although scientifically, a clean slate on both worlds
might even be more interesting, since it would indicate we don't know
anywhere near as much about the mechanisms for developing luife as we hope
All the best,
Robert Clements <Robert.Clements@dva.gov.au>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Larry Klaes [SMTP:email@example.com]
> Sent: Friday, September 03, 1999 6:07 am
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Evidence Of Earliest Ecosystems Retrieved From West
> Australian Outback
> >Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 19:23:39 GMT
> >From: Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>
> >To: ASTRO-L@uwwvax.uww.edu
> >Subject: Evidence Of Earliest Ecosystems Retrieved From West Australian
> >Department of Minerals and Energy
> >East Perth, Western Australia
> >Evidence of earliest ecosystems retrieved from West Australian outback
> >MEDIA CONTACT: James Bowie, (08) 9222 3527 or 0417 923 297
> >2 September, 1999
> >Fossil evidence of what is believed to be the world's earliest ecosystems
> >has been found and retrieved from the Western Australian outback and was
> >today handed over to the Western Australian Museum for safekeeping.
> >The structures, which look like egg cartons, represent a small area of
> >exceptionally well-preserved fossil stromatolites (structures built by
> >microbes) that existed around 3.46 billion years ago.
> >The stromatolites probably existed in a volcanic environment at a time
> >when the red and dusty Pilbara looked more like the hot-spring
> >of the North American Yellowstone National Park.
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