Scientists Find Smallest Form of Life, if It Lives

From: Larry Klaes (
Date: Wed Jan 19 2000 - 06:47:12 MST

Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 0:24:10 GMT
Subject: [ASTRO] Scientists Find Smallest Form of Life, if It Lives

Scientists Find Smallest Form of Life, if It Lives
New York Times
January 18, 2000

Scientists in Australia at the University of Queensland discovered the tiny
oddities four years ago in ancient sandstones retrieved from an oil drilling
site some three miles below the Western Australian seabed. Described
publicly for the first time in late 1998, the fuzzy tangles of filaments
resembled fungi and appeared to reproduce quickly, forming dense colonies of
tendrils. Laboratory analysis of them repeatedly found signs of DNA, or
deoxyribonucleic acid, the master molecule of heredity and life.

"Our recent work provides further evidence" that the tangles are in fact
alive, said Dr. Philippa J. R. Uwins, a scientist at the University of
Queensland's center for Microscopy and Microanalysis, who leads the
research. "They're extraordinary and incredibly pretty, the way they grow
between the minerals. I'm fascinated by them."

The topic exploded in debate four years ago when scientists reported finding
tiny fossil microbes in a 4.5-billion-year-old, potato-size Martian
meteorite that crashed to earth in Antarctica long ago. At 20 to 200
nanometers, the putative Martian fossils were smaller than any known
terrestrial life, and that discrepancy quickly sowed doubts about the
veracity of the alien-life discovery.

The researchers say they are increasingly confident that their
investigations are going to bolster the Martian meteorite find.

Full story here:

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