Researchers from Tokyo University published their most recent fossil findings that contain organic life forms dating back to 4-billion years ago, indicating that life may have formed on Earth earlier than previously believed.

Life may have appeared on Earth soon after its formation, Illustration

Life may have appeared on Earth soon after its formation, Illustration Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

According to researchers in Japan, life forms on Earth present 4 billion years ago have been identified. Ancient fossils uncovered, provide evidence of life on the planet at a time when oxygen was barely present in the atmosphere.

The group of researchers from Tokyo discovered graphite grains, a form of carbon, from ancient sedimentary rocks in the Labrador region of eastern Canada, which they claim are the oldest fossils containing evidence of life. Previous discoveries of the oldest evidence of life estimated to be 3.8 to 4.3 billion years old was announced last March at an archaeological site in Quebec

However, researcher Tsuyoshi Komiya of Tokyo University, who published the new findings, argues that the dating method used on the previously discovered fossils is “controversial.” Komiya told the AFP that his team has samples from the earliest upper crust rocks preserved on Earth.

Fossil evidence of early organisms are rare and rocks that survive from these periods are often damaged over time. Scientists who search for evidence of ancient life forms on Earth  find it particularly difficult to prove that organic remains that are found were in fact created by living organisms, rather than by geological processes.

If the Japanese researchers’ findings are accurate, it means that life appeared on the Earth a single “geological second” after the planet’s formation, some 4.5 billion years ago. Before the aforementioned fossils were found in Quebec, the oldest evidence of life was unearthed at the polar ice caps in Greenland and dated back to about 3.7 billion years ago.