Carbon in 4.1 billion year old zircon. Credit: Stanford/UCLA[
It is generally established that life began about 3,8 billion years, new research suggests otherwise.

The age of all life on Earth has been continually pushed back in time with new findings during the past decades, however. And 3,8 billion years are truly amazing since the Earth itself is no more than 4,5 billion years old.

A creative diagram of the geological time scale of Earth.

But new findings will have us pushing the age of life back in time even further. A team of scientists has found evidence of life being 300 million years older than previously thought.

This is their conclusion after analyzing some 4.1 billion-year-old crystals of a mineral zircon which they found in the Australian desert.

Some of these crystals contain microscopic grains of graphite, i.e. carbon. They analyzed the chemical composition and noticed that its origins probably are that of organic lifeforms.

The results, which have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will need to be verified.

Potentially biogenic carbon preserved in a 4.1 billion-year-old zircon