Salty, old and, perhaps, a sign of early life

Exploring salt deposits, researchers unearthed the planet's oldest-known, complete molecules thought to have been made by living things.

By Jennifer Cutraro, 00:00 AM April 10, 2008

It's hard to believe today, but millions of years ago the dusty New Mexico desert was covered by a shimmering ocean. That ocean water evaporated long ago. But it left behind huge deposits of salt. Some of those salt deposits contain tiny pockets of trapped ancient ocean water—super salty time capsules of an era before dinosaurs ever walked on Earth.

Now, a team of scientists has found the oldest-known biological molecules inside some of those briny salt-water pockets. The team analyzed samp...

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