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Signs of life in gemstones

Microbes bore through hard crystal.

By Birgitte Svennevig, , 8/10/2018

In Thailand, geobiologist from University of Southern Denmark, Magnus Ivarsson, has investigated some microscopic but very characteristic tunnels in little pieces of gemstone garnet.

Garnet is a very hard crystal, and Magnus Ivarsson is surprised to have found the little tunnels. 

He and his co-researchers believe, that the tunnels have been created by microbes. The tunnels are complex systems with branches and interconnections. Their diameter spans from few to hundreds of micrometer. Some of them are several millimeters long. 

The researchers describe their studies and conclusions in the journal PLOS ONE.

Recent research have showed that several microbes are capable of boring through hard materials, even rock. Garnet, however, is  the hardest known material to have been bored by microbes.

The find supports the theories, that similar signs of life can be found on other planets in space, and that maybe we need to look for life in space in different ways than we do today. 

”Life is inventive”, said Magnus Ivarsson from SDUs center for Earth evolution, NordCEE at Department of Biology.

Editing was completed: 10.08.2018