The oldest ruby on Earth, a shimmering red gemstone made from a translucent red mineral called corundum, was found in Greenland. While searching for blush in the North Atlantic, a group of researchers discovered a hidden surprise in one of them: graphite, a pure form of carbonIt may be a remnant of ancient microbial life.“The graphite inside this sapphire is really unique,” says Chris Yakimchuk, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He said in a statement. “This is the first time we’ve seen evidence of ancient life in sapphire-bearing rocks.”
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The team concluded that graphite came from an ancient way of life, after analyzing the relationship between different versions, or isotopes, of carbon in graphite, according to the statement. More than 98% of the carbon on the planet has a mass of 12 atomic mass units, but very little carbon Particles It is heavier, with a mass of 13 or 14 atomic mass units.
“Living matter is better made of lighter carbon atoms because it takes less energy to combine with cells,” Yakimchuk said. “Based on the increased amount of carbon-12 in this graphite, we concluded that the carbon atoms were once ancient life, most likely dead microorganisms such as cyanobacteria.”
While these ancient bacteria were likely alive, Earth didn’t have much oxygen – an essential component of complex life – so the only life that could sustain existence were tiny bacteria and algae Films. Cyanobacteria are believed to be part of the first life on Earth, and by converting sunlight into chemical energy for billions of years, they gradually produced the oxygen needed for the eventual evolution of complex life, Live Science previously reported.
Although this ancient sapphire containing graphite is hardly the oldest evidence of life found so far. In fact, there are numerous studies, many of them enthusiastically debating, claiming to have found the oldest evidence that life lasted for more than 3 billion years, Live Science previously reported.
However, this is the first time that ancient life has been found in sapphires. “The presence of graphite also gives us additional clues to determine how blush formed in this location, which cannot be done directly based on the color and chemical composition of the blush,” Yakimchuk said.
It turns out that life may have been the secret ingredient in the sapphire formation. The study found that graphite changed the chemical composition of the rocks, creating the right conditions for sapphire to grow.
The results were published in the November issue of the journal geology reviews for ore.
Originally published in Live Science.
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