Canada is home to the oldest evidence of life on Earth

Ironically, the further we get from the distant past, the more we understand it. We learn more about recent historical events as we gain perspective on them, we learn more about ancient civilizations as we discover new archeological artifacts, and we learn more about the origins of life itself through similar discoveries and scientific research.

The past is not fixed, and we are always discovering new instances of the oldest version of something. For example, our understanding of how long ago life began on Earth is informed by the oldest evidence of life we’ve been able to find so far. In 2011, a discovery in Australia had life originating there 3.4 billion years ago. Australia got to hold on to that distinction until earlier this year, when traces of life from at least 3.8 billion years ago were found in the Nuvvuagittuq Greenstone Belt, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. The CBC reported on the Nature paper:

While there is some debate as to whether or not the the age of the rock in the Nuvvuagittuq Greenstone Belt is 3.8 billion years old or 4.3 billion years old, Jonathan O’Neil, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, believes it to be on the older side. But even if the rock is younger than that, it would still make their finding the oldest record of life on Earth, by 100 million years.

So, Canada is the site of the earliest life on Earth. Unless and until someone finds even earlier life somewhere else.

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