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August 2008 Geology and GSA Today media highlights
Date:7/23/2008

small bacteria have been found in old sedimentary rocks and in a meteorite from Mars. These structures were interpreted as possible evidence for extraterrestrial life, leading to an animated and still unsolved debate. Since then, many studies have been carried out to exclude or to demonstrate without doubt that such objects are, indeed, fossils of an unknown species of bacteria, whose size is smaller than 200 nanometers. Bontognali et al. were able to produce similar structures in a laboratory experiment with living bacteria. Their observations suggest that these particles are probably not fossils of microbes. However, the process leading to their formation requires the presence of living bacteria that produce and release organic molecules in the environment. Therefore, the ancient rocks and the Martian meteorite containing these structures may indicate the existence of very old terrestrial and extraterrestrial life.


Quantitative estimates of glacial and Holocene temperature and precipitation change in lowland Amazonian Bolivia

Surangi W. Punyasena et al., Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archeology, Unit 0948, Balboa, Ancon, Panama. Pages 667-670.

Punyasena et al.'s study reconstructs temperature and precipitation changes in the lowland tropics of northeastern Bolivia from the late Pleistocene (circa 50,000 calendar years before present [cal yr B.P.]) through the present. In order to reconstruct paleotemperature and paleoprecipitation, they used published pollen records from two lakes at the southern boundary of Amazonian moist forest in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park to quantify vegetation change and apply a probabilistic climate-vegetation model based on the modern abundance distributions of 154 Neotropical plant families. Punyasena et al.'s results suggest that this area of the lowland tropics experienced cooling (1-3 degrees Celsius) and drying (400 mm/yr) during the
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Contact: Christa Stratton
cstratton@geosociety.org
303-357-1093
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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