Traces of ancient life found inside a ruby

 Traces of life have been found in a ruby ​​dating back more than 2.5 billion years by geologists at the University of Waterloo, the university website told us on October 22. The gemstone contains graphite made up of the remains of ancient microorganisms, the researchers found.

In the southwest of Greenland is one of the oldest ruby ​​deposits in the world. Chris Yakymchuk and his team are trying to determine the age and origin of local rubies, found in the lands stretching east of Maniitsoq, Greenland's sixth city. The rubies analyzed by geologists appear in a thin layer of shale wedged between plates of rock. Analysis of the chemical composition of the shale has enabled researchers to determine the age of the rubies, more than 2.5 billion years old.

One of the site's rubies particularly caught the attention of Chris Yakymchuk and his team: it included graphite, a crumbly mineral made of pure carbon similar to that of pencils. “The graphite present in this ruby ​​is truly unique. This is the first time that we have seen evidence of ancient life in rocks containing ruby, ”marvels Yakymchuk in an interview with Waterloo News. Indeed, analysis of the graphite revealed that the carbon atoms present in the mineral were organic molecules of ancient microorganisms, ie traces of life.

This discovery has allowed geologists to learn more about the origin and age of Greenlandic rubies. The origin of the traces of life present in the gemstone remains a mystery for the moment.

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