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 water evaporated long ago. But it left behind huge deposits of salt. Some of them contain tiny pockets of trapped ancient ocean water. This water serves as super salty time capsules from an era before dinosaurs walked the Earth.

 

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

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