A tiny grain of the mineral zircon from western Australia has been dated by Simon Wilde (a geology professor at Curtin University, Perth, Australia), and scientists in Edinburgh, Scotland, to be 4.4 billion years old. This makes it the oldest terrestrial material found; only 200 million years younger than the formation of the earth itself. At this time the earth was still probably undergoing bombardment from meteorites, making this find even more surprising, as it indicates some sort of a solid crust had already began to form on the earth.

Further chemical analysis has also suggested that water may have also been present at this time, making it much more likely that life began much earlier than previously thought.

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