This is the strongest evidence yet of
cometary panspermia - that life on
Earth began when a meteorite containing simple organisms landed
here, billions of years ago - and, perhaps more importantly, that
there's life elsewhere in the universe.
As you can imagine, with this being the first ever evidence that life might've arrived on Earth via a meteorite, the scientific community was skeptical of the results - and so some fragments were sent to Cardiff University in Wales for further analysis.
The researchers at Cardiff are now reporting that they're sure that these fragments come from an extraterrestrial meteorite - and that there are definitely "fossilized biological structures" within them.
Panspermia, it seems, is a go.
As for which theory is correct, we'll
probably never know - but the Polonnaruwa meteorite definitely puts
the odds in panspermia's favor.
To this end, the researchers found very low levels of nitrogen (which is nearly always present in modern-Earth organisms), and their oxygen isotope analysis,
The meteorite's atomic makeup, coupled
with the fossils being fused with the rock matrix, is a strong
indicator that the organisms aren't terrestrial in origin.
inside a meteorite
According to our in-house biologist John Hewitt, there's a strong possibility that the fossils aren't actually biological in nature - they simply look biological.
There's also the fact that the research was published in the Journal of Cosmology (The Polonnaruwa Meteorite - Oxygen Isotope, Crystalline and Biological Composition), a peer-reviewed journal that has come under critical scrutiny numerous times since it was established in 2009.
The journal faced a lot of controversy
when it published a paper by NASA engineer Richard Hoover
claiming to have found fossils "similar to cyanobacteria" in
X-ray diffraction and scanning electron
microscopy are not really the kind of tools that you play around
with. It would be rather hard to fake the imagery and results that
were generated by Cardiff University - not impossible, but unlikely.
It would be very, very exciting indeed if biological fossils have been found on an extraterrestrial meteorite. It would be proof that there's life on other planets - and essentially a guarantee that the universe is full of life.
But, as always, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.