The key point here is that this cellular life existed 2.7 billion years ago around the time that oxygen rich atmosphere evolved. Thus it is likely a real sample of pre photosynthesis environments.
I suspect that this will be an important discovery that informs greatly. Other such examples should be also discovered.
Great science and completely unexpected. Older rocks need the same work done and this should be made with drill cores as well. It is not too difficult to wash a core sample and then place it in a sealing medium in advance of lab work. splitting in a nitrogen atmosphere allows preservation of the embedded moisture..
The Daily BuzzOctober 27, 2016
New reseatch suggests that ancient waters in a northern Ontario mineshaft are home to microscopic alien life. Photo: Barbara Sherwood Lollar]
Isolated pools of ancient water sit bubbling 2.4 kilometres beneath the earth’s surface in northern Ontario — and they may contain life.
The age of the waters was first identified by scientists in 2013, reports the National Post, when researchers ran tests in a mine near Timmins, Ont. and discovered that the water had been isolated from the earth’s surface for up to 2.7 billion years.
Now, researchers have found that those same waters have an unusual life-support system, reports the Globe and Mail. This discovery suggests that the waters may contain organisms that, although not technically alien to Earth, could be similar to what scientists hope to one day find on Mars.
The research team, made up of scientists from University of Alberta and McGill University, found that the waters contained far less of the element sulphur than was expected. They hypothesize that the missing sulphur is being used by bacterial microbes as a source of energy.
The finding is significant because it would mean that water, sulphur and radioactive elements can support life without sunlight or atmospheric oxygen. Environments with these three components are present on other planets, moons, and asteroids.
In a press release, the research team explained why their finding increases the chances of finding life on a planet like Mars: “Because this is a fairly common geological setting on modern Mars, we think that as long as the right minerals and liquid water are present, maybe kilometers below the Martian surface, they may interact and produce energy for life, if there is any.”
And if there is life on Mars, it may be hidden deep, deep down below the surface.