Algae-like structures found inside fragments of a meteorite which struck Sri Lanka last year prove that life exists elsewhere in the Universe, a new study claims.
A paper by an international team of scientists, their second on the subject, makes the extraordinary claim that electron microscope images of the rocks have revealed tiny fossilised life forms from outer space.
The authors are convinced that their findings offer firm evidence of panspermia, the hypothesis that life exists throughout the Universe and is spread by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids
However, sceptics are already lining up to pour scorn on their methodology.
MailOnline first reported in January the claims by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, that investigations of the meteorite had revealed evidence of alien life.
He is joint author of a new study, just published in the Journal of Cosmology, which reiterates the controversial claims on the basis of a new analysis of the rocks.
The paper tells how on the evening of December 29 last year a bright yellow fireball lit up the skies over Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka, turning green as it disintegrated on entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Blazing hot, sparkling fragments rained down on the villages and paddy fields below, according to reports, leaving some witnesses with burns and giving off fumes with a strong odour of asphalt.
Local police collected samples of the curious rocks and handed them to the Medical Research Institute of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, who then passed them on to researchers at Cardiff University for further analysis, the study says.
In total Jamie Wallis, of Cardiff’s School of Mathematics, and colleagues received 628 fragments purportedly from the meteorite – three of which, they say, were ‘clearly identified as possible meteorites’.
In the latest study, the researchers make the extraordinary claim than these three rocks contain fossilised biological structures fused into the rock matrix.
Furthermore, they say, their tests have ruled out the possibility of terrestrial contamination.
The team published electron microscope images of structures within the stones which they say show a complex, thick-walled, carbon-rich microfossil about 100 micrometres across.
Another image, they say, shows well-preserved flagella 100 micrometres long but only two micrometres in diameter.
The researchers interpret that unusual long and thin configuration ‘as indicating a low-gravity, low-pressure environment and rapid freeze-drying’ – which could only happen in outer space.
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