New Verdict on Martian Fossils

Electron microscope photo of structures in Martian meteorite.

Electron microscope photo of structures in Martian meteorite.

Did an asteroid impact on the surface of Mars eject fossilized bacteria into space on a 16 million year trip that ended in the Allan Hills of Antarctica?

That’s the theory advanced by scientists after using an electron microscope to analyze features of a Martian meteorite.

Skeptics were unconvinced that the micro structures were fossilized life when identical claims were first published in 1996, but the UK Times indicates further studies have strengthened the original interpretation:

Nasa scientists have produced the most compelling evidence yet that bacterial life exists on Mars.

It showed that microscopic worm-like structures found in a Martian meteorite that hit the Earth 13,000 years ago are almost certainly fossilised bacteria. The so-called bio-morphs are embedded beneath the surface layers of the rock, suggesting that they were already present when the meteorite arrived, rather than being the result of subsequent contamination by Earthly bacteria….

According to scientists, the meteorite was broken off the surface of Mars by the impact of an asteroid, and reached Earth after floating through space for about 16 million years. It landed in Allan Hills in Antarctica. Scientists were able to trace the meteorite back to Mars, as its chemical composition matched the relative proportions of various gases measured in observations of the atmosphere of Mars made by the Viking spacecraft in the 1970s.

A scientist who peer reviewed the new findings and works on magnetic bacteria said, “One indication there was life on ancient Mars are these particular magnetite crystals in the meteorite that look like they came out of magnetic bacteria. … [The] magnetic bacteria make some very unique shapes of magnetite crystals. And one of the organisms we work with on Earth makes particles that look virtually identical to what we see from Mars in the meteorite.”

[Via Chaos Manor.]

Dragon Net

Although my family prefers to believe dragons come from the pen of James Owen, some scientists now claim dragons come from the land Down Under. At least, the Komodo kind of dragon and its much larger, extinct relatives.

For the last 4 million years, Australia has been home to the world’s largest lizards, including the 16-foot-long giant (5 meters) called Megalania, once the world’s largest terrestrial lizard but which died out some 40,000 years ago.

They wonder why the Komodos of Australia died out. For a change the explanation for a vanished species is not that hungry 19th century British sailors ate them all:

Were humans involved? “We have no evidence for this because the youngest Komodo fossils in Australia are around 300,000 years old, well before humans arrived. So we don’t know whether the Komodo dragons in Australia died out before humans arrived or after. So the jury will remain out on this question until a better fossil record is found.”