British scientists have found the remains of microbal bugs in what is the world’s oldest fossil suggesting similar organisms once existed on Mars.
The fossil, which was found in Quebec, Canada, shows life on earth was thriving as far back as 4.2 billion years, hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought.
This makes the prospect of life on the Red Planet a distinct possibility, as it was also bombarded with comets that are thought to have brought the building blocks of life to earth.
The bugs are believed to have thrived in a deep sea hydrothermal vent system – volcanic activity on the ocean floor.
Scientists, from University College London, believe the minieral-rich environment in the hot water surrounding the vent may have provided habitats for the early life form.
Matthew Dodd, a member of the UK team, said: ‘Our discovery supports the idea that life emerged from hot, sea floor vents shortly after planet Earth formed.
‘This speedy appearance of life on Earth fits with other evidence of recently discovered 3,700 million year old sedimentary mounds that were shaped by micro-organisms.’