By Hamish Johnston
Finding the fossilized remains of extraterrestrial life in a meteorite would surely be the biggest scientific discovery of the century. That’s what appears to be reported in a paper published in the Journal of Cosmology and available on the arXiv preprint server.
The meteorite is said to have landed in a field in Sri Lanka in December 2012 and several fragments recovered at the site have been studied by scientists based there and in the UK and US. Their paper contains several electron microscope images of what the authors describe as “highly carbonaceous fossilized biological structures”.
The team also published a paper (PDF) in January in which it claimed that fossils of diatom-like organisms were found in the meteorite.
So why isn’t this front-page news in every media outlet in the world? I am not qualified to answer that question – but the astronomer and sceptic Phil Plait has some rather strong opinions on the discovery.
For the other side of the story, see the video press conference above.