Microbes Living Underground for Over a Billion Years is a Possible Scenario
A billion years is certainly a very long time for anybody. By comparison, the Universe is believed to be 13.7 billion years old, as that’s the time spent after the Big Bang, according to most scientists. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, meaning that it’s roughly three times younger than the Cosmos itself. But some microbes could actually live underground for more than a billion years, as a new study that Phys.org speaks about reveals. And no, we’re not referring to any mutant microbes from a horror video game where you have to shoot lasers at them.
For the new study, some of the oldest rocks on Earth were analyzed. These rocks are shown to have been uninhabitable for the most part of the time. However, the longest habitability period only extended one billion years a bit.
The habitability of the Precambrian cratons was analyzed
For the new study, Henrik Drake, who is an associate professor from the Linnaeus University in Sweden, together with Peter Reiners, a Professor of the University of Arizona, wanted to present the habitability of the Precambrian cratons over time from a thermochronological standpoint.
Henrik Drake explained the findings, as quoted by Phys.org:
In this study, we wanted to combine the record of signatures of deep ancient life found within craton fracture systems with the recent advances in intermediate- and low-temperature thermochronology. The cratonic rocks formed billions of years ago, deep in the crust, at temperatures too high for any life. It was only much later, following erosion, that the currently exposed rocks reached levels in the crust where temperatures were habitable.
Are you more curious about what happened on Earth one billion years ago? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
Although the division between a colony with specialized cells and a multicellular organism is not always clear, around 1 billion years ago, the first multicellular plants emerged, probably green algae.
The new study regarding the microbes’ ability to live long underground was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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