19:49 GMT +324 May 2019
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    New Research Suggests Life on Earth Existed Way Earlier Than You Expect

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    Japanese geologists have found evidence indicating that life should have existed on Earth at least 4 billion years ago, according to an article published in the Nature journal.

    Researchers from the University of Tokyo found deposits of carbon isotopes in sedimentary rocks in Canada's northeast, which turned out to be the product of living organisms.

    By analyzing isotopes, researchers can identify whether they are biogenic — namely contain early cells of living systems — or are a result of some geochemical process.

    A large number of graphite samples allowed the research team to reveal details of how these organisms looked like and in what conditions they lived.

    For instance, low concentration of "heavy" carbon in the deposits indicated that the bacteria were feeding on hydrogen.

    Moreover, high proportions of yttrium and several other rare earth metals present in the analyzed material prompted suggestions that the first microbes on Earth did not live in freshwater lakes, but rather in saltwater.

    At the same time, many scientists doubt this idea, pointing out the absence of many critical elements, such as boron or manganese, in the ocean and their availability on the surface.

    Further excavations, Japanese researchers hope, will help them get more detailed information about early organisms.

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