Rock solid proof of alien life? Scientists claim fossilized algae inside meteorite
Fossilized algae recently discovered inside a Sri Lankan meteorite could finally prove the existence of extra-terrestrial life, claim the authors of the new paper.
In a recently published article in the Journal of Cosmology titled â€śFossil Diatoms in a New Carbonaceous Meteoriteâ€ť, scientists from the UK and Sri Lanka claim to have found fossilized algae in a meteorite.
The paper alleges thatÂ â€śmicroscopic fossilized diatoms were found in the sample,â€ťÂ which fell in Sri Lanka in December last year. The finding, the work suggests is aÂ â€śstrong evidence to support the theory of cometary panspermia.â€ťÂ The theory argues that life across planets is spread by meteorites and asteroids.Â Panspermia suggests that life could have existed on another planet and moved to Earth.
The scientists concluded the paper by sayingÂ â€śthe presence of structures of this kind in any extra-terrestrial setting could be construed as unequivocal proof of biology.â€ť
Samples from the rock were collected immediately after a large meteorite disintegrated and fell in the village of Araganwila in Sri Lanka on 29 December 2012.
The scientific community, including Prof Francis Thackeray from the Institute of Human Evolution at Wits University welcomed the report asÂ Â â€śvery excitingâ€ťÂ yetÂ â€śvery controversialâ€ť, as samples could have been contaminated on earth, Business Day reports.
The study was conducted by a group headed by Chandra Wickramasinghe, the director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham, who was also a co-founder of Panspermia theory.
The finding however has already come under sharp criticism, with astronomers claiming that the meteorite looks more like a rock that could be found on earth as the study provides vague details of the finding.
Astronomer and lecturer Phil Plait wrote in his blog on Slate that the chemical analysis presentedÂ â€śdoesnâ€™t prove itâ€™s a carbonaceous chondrite, let alone a meteorite,â€ťÂ and there isÂ â€śno reason to trust that what they have is a meteorite.â€ť
Plait also cited a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Patrick Kociolek as saying that there was no sign that the diatoms illustrated in the study wereÂ â€śfossilized material,â€ťÂ and that most of them were species that representedÂ â€śa clear case of contamination with freshwater.â€ť