Salt crystals from Central Australia hold ancient microorganisms that became trapped 830 million years ago, new research finds.
And there’s a chance that some of the microorganisms might still be alive.
The single-celled organisms are locked in tiny fluid pockets — smaller than the width of a human hair — in halite, or salt, from a formation of sedimentary rocks. The microorganisms lived nearly 1 billion years ago in what was either a shallow, salty marine environment or a shallow, salty lake. The researchers discovered this ancient life by peering into the salt crystals using light microscopy, meaning they didn’t disturb the fluid pockets — and the status of the life inside them is unknown. However, scientists have previously claimed they resurrected primeval microorganisms found in salt crystals, so it’s possible that the Australian organisms may also still be alive.
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