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Outstanding in a Field

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I think I have told you before… When I go to Mexico, which I will be going this week, I study these little buggers…

They look like coral, don’t they?!

But they aren’t… they are made by bacteria…

Last week when we were in Morocco, one of the things we were looking at were some fossilized stromatolites (by the way, that’s the science name for them.) We wanted to compare: the stromatolites that are living today and what they look like to the ones from billions of year ago… to see what was similar and what wasn’t.

Scientists love to compare things…

There is a lot of controversy over what might be a real, old stromatolite and what might just be, well, chemical processes…

It’s highly controversial.. that word came out of the mouth of almost every geologist on the field trip in almost every explanation that was given.

So they let us out of the cars and there in the field to the right of the road cut they told us to get out and take a look…

Okay, that doesn’t show you what you need to see. Here’s a better view…

Just imagine this… if you had been a sheepherder, back before the pyramids were built and you and your clan were wandering this part of north west Africa, would you have looked at these “rocks” and wondered, “What in the heck are these things?!?!? Where did they come from?”

Now take a look at this:

Hint: that picture above is from Shark’s Bay, Australia, about 1 year ago.

What do you think? What are those things from the Moroccan field and what do you think that field used to look like, oh say, about 600 million years ago?

And even better, do you think if we saw something like that on another planet, that NASA could make this announcement “We have found ET!!!!”

11 Responses

  1. The issue is whether biology participates in their formation, or not. Standing in this field, the feeling you had was that they were clearly made by biology, but that “feeling” isn’t good enough for science, you have to prove it. So all explanations of physical or chemical explanations must be… well, explained away. Add to that, although they ‘looked’ like modern ones from a gross perspective, when you look inside them, they are nothing alike. If we want to find life somewhere else, we have to have defining characteristics that prove it is life or at least is a signature of life…that just gets trickier and controversially more difficult the more we seem to know.

  2. Hmmmmmm – that is very interesting. I had no idea it would be so difficult to determine if something was biological or not.

  3. Paraphrasing a very famous evolutionist,whether its faith matters or science matters, beware of anyone who tells you they have everything figured out and solved…

    I can speak for science: this is the beauty of it, we make a theory and as we add new information, we improve upon the theory. However, our ‘fault’ with the lay public is that we seldom make this apparent.

  4. You may remember the term hypothesis from science class. A theory is usually a combination of hypotheses to help bring them into context… but the only thing i really wanted to point out is that when my mom says “improve” she means validate or improve… she sometimes proves things wrong… much like most of my homework growing up… ok maybe not but if i had done my homework she would have.

  5. So, although they look similar, they are not. Two different animals? The first is made by bacteria. What are the others? With all of those brains roaming the desert, what was the consensus? The pictures are fascinating (even more so if I could have been a fly and heard those great minds pondering and debating their theories!)

  6. Never to miss an opportunity to correct my mom (it doesnt happen often)Coral actually are animals what they build are reefs.

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