Researchers have found fossils of bacteria in northwest Australia’s Pilbara region, that are dated at 3.49 billion-years-old. That’s older than oxygen and just one billion years after Earth’s formation. The fossils, which are textures on the surfaces of sandstone thought to be sculpted by once-living organisms, are believed to be the oldest visible fossils ever uncovered.
Old Dominion University’s Nora Noffke said:
“I can confidently say the structures we’re working on cannot be found on older rocks—until now, there has been nothing that is this well preserved. There are some that are much older, but they experience metamorphosis—anything that’s on them has been overprinted and it’s difficult to reconstruct what was there.”
Scientists believe the fossilized bacteria once fed on sulfur, as do many bacterial organisms today.