Fossil mimics may be more common in ancient rocks than actual fossils

Abiotic objects that resemble microbes are much hardier than their biological brethren

Sphere-shaped “biomorphs” — crystalline objects made abiotically through chemical reactions — can closely resemble microfossils. Such biomorphs are more likely to be preserved in rocks than fossils of microorganisms, researchers say. C. NIMS

In a new study, researchers produced twisted filament-shaped biomorphs (top) from the reactions of sulfide with prebiotic organic compounds. The biomorphs resemble possible microbial fossils (bottom, filaments indicated by red arrows) found in rocks dating to 3.5 billion years ago.FROM TOP: C. NIMS; R.J. BAUMGARTNER ET AL/GEOLOGY 2019

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