The rugged and remote Pilbara region, located about 1,300 kilometres north of Perth, Australia and covering some 500,000 square kilometres of land, is one of Australia’s most fascinating places with traces of Earth’s earliest life.
The ancient Pilbara’s 2.5 billion year old landscape keeps many prehistoric secrets. Some of them have recently been unveiled by reseachers working in the area.
Researchers collecting rock samples in Pilbara region have discovered a mineral – ‘tranquillityite’ – previously believed to exist only on the Moon.
|The uranium-lead dating indicates that the Pilbara rocks containing tranquillityite were over 1 billion years old, about 200 million years older than other scientific estimates, reported Australian Geographic.Worth mentioning is also discovery of traces of bacteria that lived a record-breaking 3.49 billion years ago, a mere billion years after Earth formed.
It’s our planet’s oldest fossils ever described and are our oldest ancestors, according to researchers. Unlike dinosaur bones, the newly identified fossils are not petrified body parts. They’re textures on the surfaces of sandstone thought to be sculpted by once-living organisms.
The most famous, however, are Pilbara’s ancient Aboriginal rock petroglyphs that pre-date Stonehenge and Egypt’s pyramids.
Archaeologists have recently been able to confirms vast collection of Aboriginal engravings in the Pilbara region that may be tens of thousands of years old.
Their number is estimated up to 1 million images!
First, archaeologists estimated that some of these fascinating engravings to be up to 30,000 years old, but Professor Brad Pillans, a geologist at the Australian National University and his team took rock samples and measured the natural erosion rates of rock on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia.
The team’s results show that the area has some of the lowest erosion rates anywhere in the world, providing the perfect environment for preserving rock art. This could be attributed to the durability of the rock itself and the dry climate of the Burrup Peninsula.
“As it turns out, the rocks on the Burrup Peninsula are extremely hard and are therefore very resistant to natural weathering processes,” Professor Pillans said.
The paper will be published in the June 2013 issue of Quaternary Science Reviews.