Alien objects delayed the development of intelligent life on Earth

Asteroid impacts influenced the process of appearance of life on Earth, but for the worse, as they could have delayed several million years

A recent study has uncovered new evidence indicating that the number of celestial bodies that collided with Earth in the past was up to ten times greater than previously believed. These collisions likely shaped the Earth’s development and the emergence of life on the planet.

O study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience and was led by a team that includes Tim Lyons, a scientist at UC Riverside, California. Asteroid or comet impacts during the early years of Earth’s history may have contributed to early life and its early evolution, but later delayed the development of more complex life forms that require oxygen.

‘Asteroid impacts may increase the release of oxygen-consuming gases from Earth. Furthermore, it is common for meteorites to contain large amounts of iron that combine with water and generate gases that affect the composition of the atmosphereā€¯, explains Tim Lyons.

Impact of a meteorite on Mars. Material that was originally under the surface of a planet has fallen into the newly formed crater and is visible as a yellowish ring. Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

The Earth has suffered much more impacts than previously believed

The latest research in the Earth’s crust points to a frequency of meteorite impacts in the period between 2,400 and 3,500 million years ago that exceeds previous estimates.

When large asteroids or comets collide with the surface, energy is released and rocky materials in the planet’s crust evaporate. Then, tiny droplets of molten rock condense, solidify, and fall back to Earth, forming round particles the size of a grain of sand.

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These impact particles or beads are collision markers. Another of the authors of the article, Nadja Drabon, said that in recent years a series of new layers of beads have been identified in drill cores and outcrops, increasing the total number of impacts known during the Earth’s primitive stage.

Will we be bombed by giant asteroids?

The research team, led by Simone march, found that impacts diminished about 2.4 billion years ago. This reduction coincided with an important surface change caused by the increase in atmospheric oxygen, called Great Oxidation.

How likely are we to be bombed by giant asteroids in the future? According to these experts, we shouldn’t worry as impacts were much less common during the second half of Earth’s history. While there are currently thousands of objects close to it, some with the potential to impact Earth, the vast majority are quite small. In addition, NASA closely follows the biggest ones.

The impacts were very important in the development of the history of life on Earth for billions of years. In addition to affecting oxygen, they caused some extinctions and altered the composition of the atmosphere. They heated the Earth’s surface and triggered the formation of organic molecules that served as the initial building blocks of life.

These impacts were quite frequent early in our history. As the time and size of impacts from extraterrestrial objects has diminished, their ability to accumulate oxygen in the atmosphere has also diminished. This contributed to the increase in oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere about 2.4 billion years ago. Lyons also explained that this change favored the emergence of complex life forms thanks to the abundance of oxygen, something that happened more than 1,500 million years later, and gave rise to the first animals.


Delayed and variable late Archean atmospheric oxidation due to high collision rates on Earth

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