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Kon Dealer
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Fossil found in meteorite
      #5623895 - 01/15/13 07:14 AM

A very interesting paper has just been published in the
"Journal of Cosmology".
Can be downloaded at http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/polonnaruwa-meteorite.pdf

Quick reading gives me doubts- e.g. Fig 4.
They really need to show a profile of material from where the meteorite was collected. Is it different or similar?
i.e. I don't believe a proper control has been provided.
I would reject publication on this alone.

But what if this fossil IS extraterrestrial?


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Ravenous
sage


Reged: 11/14/09

Loc: UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5623967 - 01/15/13 08:20 AM

Initial reaction: too good to be true.

Wait a few weeks for more people to look at the OTHER bits. (Note that the sample was a fragment of the meteorite supplied by another party.)


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D_talley
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/07/05

Loc: Richmond VA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5623997 - 01/15/13 08:44 AM

What a poorly written paper! It is clear that they are jumping to conclusions.

1. Did they take a sample of the area were the meteorite fell to see if there are diatoms in the soil to contaminate the meteorite?

2 Have they taken other samples of the meteorite to see if there are other signs of the fossils?

3. Have samples been examined by a third party?

4. Where are the photos of the Red Rain that they claim are simular to the fossils?

5. I would like to see clearly detailed photos of the meteorite and the sites they chose to examine under the microscope. At the moment I have no point of reference to show what they are looking at. I can't tell if it is a piece of dirt picked up with the meteorite.


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Ravenous
sage


Reged: 11/14/09

Loc: UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: D_talley]
      #5624008 - 01/15/13 08:52 AM

Having read the paper a bit more, I'll correct the comment I made about the supply of the sample. The paper DOES name the person who sent the sample.

Still looks too good to be true though. Also a quick web search for the name of the journal immediately revealed some other controversial items published in the past.

So I'm still very doubtful. Reminds me of the infamous worms in the ALH84001 (or whatever it was) meteorite.


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Ravenous
sage


Reged: 11/14/09

Loc: UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5624022 - 01/15/13 09:01 AM

Also, can they prove a meteorite (if that's what this one is) did not originate from the surface of the Earth in the first place? (They seem sure it's from an old comet, but I have no idea how you'd prove or disprove either case.)

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Kon Dealer
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5624078 - 01/15/13 09:45 AM

Quote from the paper
"Diatom fossils of a wide range of types are found (sic) marine sediments dating back to the Cretaceous Tertiary boundary 65 million years ago"

There was a large marine impact event 65 million year ago. It was probably responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Who knows how much material was ejected into space?


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dickbill
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/30/08

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5624409 - 01/15/13 01:26 PM

hmmm...the iss uses to trash everything in the stratosphere. What did the astronaut eat recently?

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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5624413 - 01/15/13 01:27 PM

Diatoms predate the K-T event. They've been around since at least the Jurassic. They are planktonic, specialized sea creatures. They're photosynthetic eukaryotes, which means they're highly advanced biologically, and require abundant sunlight to survive. Even if one were to make the argument that life could be carried by comets, to assert that the life happened to consist of a highly evolved sun-dependant ocean specialist (living on primordial ice in the Kuiper belt?) is a bit ridiculous.

Kon's point seems a bit unlikely, but it's far more plausible that small chunks from some terrestrial impact were launched into solar orbit(or even high Earth orbit) and are occasionally returning, than that fossil diatoms would have been carried by a comet from the outer reaches of the solar system.

The most likely possibility in my view is that the rock is not a meteorite at all.


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Kon Dealer
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5624460 - 01/15/13 01:50 PM

Quote:

Diatoms predate the K-T event. They've been around since at least the Jurassic. They are planktonic, specialized sea creatures. They're photosynthetic eukaryotes, which means they're highly advanced biologically, and require abundant sunlight to survive. Even if one were to make the argument that life could be carried by comets, to assert that the life happened to consist of a highly evolved sun-dependant ocean specialist (living on primordial ice in the Kuiper belt?) is a bit ridiculous.


Kon's point seems a bit unlikely, but it's far more plausible that small chunks from some terrestrial impact were launched into solar orbit(or even high Earth orbit) and are occasionally returning, than that fossil diatoms would have been carried by a comet from the outer reaches of the solar system.

The most likely possibility in my view is that the rock is not a meteorite at all.




I didn't say this.
What I said was who knows how much material was ejected into space at the KT event?
I believe this "meteorite" is not derived from a comet, rather ejecta from Earth, eventually finding its way back.

As a biochemist, who has published in the area of photosynthesis I agree absolutely with llantedave that photosynthetic eukaryotes are highly unlikely to survive/exist in/on comets.

Hence an earthly origin


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Rick Woods
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/27/05

Loc: Inner Solar System
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5625215 - 01/15/13 09:16 PM

Quote:

So I'm still very doubtful. Reminds me of the infamous worms in the ALH84001 (or whatever it was) meteorite.




Ravenous,

ALH84001 is still very much an open issue. There's nothing infamous about it; there are just a lot of people who aren't convinced by the evidence. But then, a lot of people are. We need more information.

I haven't read this paper yet; I'll download it tonight. But just the idea is exciting!


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TVG
member


Reged: 05/03/12

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5625298 - 01/15/13 10:07 PM

Even if the meteorite contained lifeforms that were ejected from our planet 65 million years ago, would it still be classified as extraterrestrial? It has existed in space for 65 million years and succumbed to all sorts of evolutionary possibilities. Relatively speaking, everything we know of came from a planet or star or big bang or etc.... at some point, where do astrobiologist draw the line?

Todd


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: TVG]
      #5625560 - 01/16/13 01:46 AM

Well in this case, there are no evolutionary possibilities because the organisms in question are dead.

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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks
*****

Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Oort Cloud 9
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5625573 - 01/16/13 02:08 AM

Journal of Cosmology is well known in the planetary science community....as being the National Enquirer in the world of science journals. It is not peer reviewed. It does not exist in print. It has a history of publishing poorly written papers by authors with dubious credentials.

FWIW, no fossils have ever been found in meteorites, ALH 84001 included.


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Rick Woods
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/27/05

Loc: Inner Solar System
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #5625575 - 01/16/13 02:12 AM

Quote:

FWIW, no fossils have ever been found in meteorites, ALH 84001 included.




Ah, Mike, you seem so sure.
You have access to information that nobody else has?


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Kon Dealer
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: TVG]
      #5625643 - 01/16/13 04:49 AM

Quote:

Even if the meteorite contained lifeforms that were ejected from our planet 65 million years ago, would it still be classified as extraterrestrial? It has existed in space for 65 million years and succumbed to all sorts of evolutionary possibilities. Relatively speaking, everything we know of came from a planet or star or big bang or etc.... at some point, where do astrobiologist draw the line?

Todd




Todd, it is not living, rather a fossil.
Just how old will need to be determined by radioisotope dating and/or comparative studies of the cell wall (frustule) wih living and extinct species.
There will be no evolution for a eucaryotic cell, in space, that requires an environment with carbon dioxide, oxygen liquid water, plus an above zero degrees C environment to live.


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Ravenous
sage


Reged: 11/14/09

Loc: UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5625695 - 01/16/13 06:40 AM

Quote:

comparative studies of the cell wall (frustule) wih living and extinct species



That's another thing I thought looked dodgy - they show pictures of the diatom and pictures of a known species and seem to imply (not directly state) that it's the same. They look very different in some structural details to me (shape of the ridges around the mid-length). I'm not claiming it is not a diatom, but I do think they seem to be rushing to identify it with a known species. I can't blame them for not being experts on these sorts of creatures (I would guess there are lots of species and a specialist would be needed to identify it) but I am concerned they seem to be jumping to conclusions.

Oh another thing: I think they are too assertive at the end where they seem to think comets carried life to Earth. (If that's what cometary panspermia means - I haven't read the four references they make at that statement.) If comets are carrying these (alive), we would expect to find similar diatoms like this much earlier in the fossil record.


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Jarad
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5625729 - 01/16/13 07:43 AM

If it was exactly like a diatom, that would strongly argue for it being from earth. Diatoms were not the first life forms on earth - if something did seed life on earth, the "seeds" weren't diatoms, they were something much simpler, similar to archaebacteria.

Jarad


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5625846 - 01/16/13 09:28 AM

Quote:

Quote from the paper
"Diatom fossils of a wide range of types are found (sic) marine sediments dating back to the Cretaceous Tertiary boundary 65 million years ago"

There was a large marine impact event 65 million year ago. It was probably responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Who knows how much material was ejected into space?




I do - lots!

-drl


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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks
*****

Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Oort Cloud 9
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Jarad]
      #5625864 - 01/16/13 09:36 AM

I have to agree that if any microbial lifeforms or fossils are found inside a meteorite, they will likely be a result of contamination.

The author is welcome to contact me and I will put him in touch with a reputable planetary scientist who will analyze his sample to verify the results. Personally, I have doubts whether the author's specimen is a meteorite. It has terrestrial characteristics and the first step would be to microprobe this rock and rule out a terrestrial origin.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #5625986 - 01/16/13 10:55 AM

Quote:

I have to agree that if any microbial lifeforms or fossils are found inside a meteorite, they will likely be a result of contamination.

The author is welcome to contact me and I will put him in touch with a reputable planetary scientist who will analyze his sample to verify the results. Personally, I have doubts whether the author's specimen is a meteorite. It has terrestrial characteristics and the first step would be to microprobe this rock and rule out a terrestrial origin.




Just from the picture alone the texture looked more like travertine to me. The publication said that there was olivine in the sample, and if so it wasn't travertine, but at this point I'm not really inclined to accept any of their so-called analysis.


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