The 830,000,000 Year Old Salt Zombie
Above: An image from the study showing the suspected microorganism in halite.
Geologists have uncovered an incredible and tiny piece of history: 830,000,000 year old life. Remains of prokaryotic life have been discovered within a halite salt crystal, but what is most incredible is that the organisms may still be living today.
As salt forms in the ocean, the crystallization process can trap small amounts of water inside and seal it away. These inclusions of seawater are effectively untouchable after they're formed, meaning they hold amazingly accurate data about the time and place they came from. Occasionally, microorganisms are found within these sealed fluid chambers, with some living ones found in material over 250 million years old. Scientists haven't confirmed whether these new ones are also living, but it is within the realm of possibility.
Another interesting implication of this discovery goes beyond our planet. Deposits on Mars have been found with similar compositions of material to formations of these salt crystals. As research on halite organisms continues on Earth, we may be able to find evidence of life on other planets on the microscopic scale.