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  • This sample of rock was taken from the Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world, in 1982 and was soon found to contain evidence of early life on Earth. A study published by UCLA and UW–Madison scientists in 2017 used sophisticated chemical analysis to confirm the microscopic structures found in the rock are indeed biological, rendering them — at 3.5 billion years — the oldest fossils yet found. This is the rock after analysis in the WiscSIMS Laboratory.
    Courtesy of John Valley, UW–Madison
    This sample of rock was taken from the Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world, in 1982 and was soon found to contain evidence of early life on Earth. A study published by UCLA and UW–Madison scientists in 2017 used sophisticated chemical analysis to confirm the microscopic structures found in the rock are indeed biological, rendering them — at 3.5 billion years — the oldest fossils yet found. This is the rock after analysis in the WiscSIMS Laboratory.
  • An example of one of the microfossils discovered in a sample of rock recovered from the Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world. The fossils were first described in 1993 but a 2017 study published by UCLA and UW–Madison scientists used sophisticated chemical analysis to confirm the microscopic structures found in the rock are indeed biological, rendering them — at 3.5 billion years — the oldest fossils yet found.
    Courtesy of J. William Schopf, UCLA
    An example of one of the microfossils discovered in a sample of rock recovered from the Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world. The fossils were first described in 1993 but a 2017 study published by UCLA and UW–Madison scientists used sophisticated chemical analysis to confirm the microscopic structures found in the rock are indeed biological, rendering them — at 3.5 billion years — the oldest fossils yet found.
  • The Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world. In 1982, at the site pictured here, a team of geologists sampled rock that was ultimately found to contain microfossils of the oldest life yet described on Earth. Pictured are UW–Madison geoscience researchers on a field trip to the site in 2010.
    Courtesy of John Valley, UW–Madison
    The Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world. In 1982, at the site pictured here, a team of geologists sampled rock that was ultimately found to contain microfossils of the oldest life yet described on Earth. Pictured are UW–Madison geoscience researchers on a field trip to the site in 2010.
  • John Valley, professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
    Bryce Richter/UW–Madison
    John Valley, professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison




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