APTN National News
Scientists believe they have found evidence of the oldest signs of life on Earth in Nunavik, Quebec’s Inuit territory.
Geologist Jonathan O’Neil of the University of Ottawa was part of the team who made the discovery.
He said rocks from the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt south of Inukjuak read like a book of Earth’s early history.
“It gives us a really great window, to understand how Earth was like back then, and in these rocks, we have actually identified the oldest traces of microorganisms that have lived on our planet,” he said.
These rocks contain what are known as microfossils. Half the width of a human hair, they are between 3.8 and 4.3 billion years old – at least 100 million years older than any other discovery so far.
That means life on the 4.6 billion old planet Earth occurred much sooner than thought.
O’Neil said he and his colleagues couldn’t have made the discovery it without the Inuit’s knowledge of the land and hunting skills.
He specifically singles out “Minnie and Noah from Inukjuak” for their contribution.
“These guys are great, every time we’re going there they’re helping us tremendously,” said O’Neil “They take care of our gear because we’re camping for 3 weeks, they bring us with their canoe, logistically in the field, it makes our life much easier.”
Also of note, discoveries such as these implications beyond the planet Earth.
“These discoveries demonstrate life developed on Earth at a time when Mars and Earth had liquid water on their surfaces, posing exciting questions for extra-terrestrial life.
“Therefore, we expect to find evidence for past life on Mars 4,000 million years ago, or if not, Earth may have been a special exception,” said Matthew Dodd, a PhD student University College of London.
After publishing their recent findings, O’Neil and his colleagues are back at work studying other microfossils found in Canada’s north.
But for now, Nunavik’s contribution is leading the way,