What Microfossils Found in Meteorites Can Tell Us

Photo of the martian meteorite ALH84001. Dull, dark fusion crust covers about 80% of the sample. Image Credit: NASA/JSC

While most people associate the term microfossil with the strange ALH 84001 object, there are plenty of other more concrete examples of tiny fossilized organisms. Research conducted with scanning electron microscope equipment has created a wide array of scientific literature regarding these small remains of living organisms. While marine objects don’t necessary have anything to directly do with the biogenic hypothesis of structures in meteorites, they do suggest that it’s possible for some meteorites to have remnants of antediluvian organisms.

This includes shergottite, nakhlite and chassignite meteorites that have come from Mars. It might be ironic that less attention is paid to Venus, when that planet is perhaps more like the Earth than Mars is. In fact, Venus is sometimes called Earth’s twin.

Structures resembling fossils make up the most solid body of proof for extraterrestrials. While research carried out by organizations like SETI isn’t usually accepted by mainstream academia, ALH 84001 showed up on the nightly news. These stories also illustrate the value of finding meteorite material on the Earth’s surface. Space exploration is a noble goal, but the process of recovering meteorites is far easier. It’s something that can be done immediately without any additional technology. That makes it a low hanging fruit for the hands of hungry scientific investigators.


Emmanuelle J. Javaux, Craig P. Marshall, & Andrey Bekker (2010). Organic-walled microfossils in 3.2-billion-year-old shallow-marine siliciclastic deposits Nature, 463, 934-938 DOI: 10.1038/nature08793

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