Researchers in Greenland Discover Ancient Life Form Encased in 2.5 Billion-Year-Old Ruby

While in the process of examining several of the world’s oldest colored stones, researchers came across a carbon residue that they believe contained ancient life. University of Waterloo researchers found the carbon residue inside a 2.5 billion-year-old ruby, a purplish red orange colored class of crystal.

A ruby gemstone is formed by corundum a liquid form of aluminum oxide that combines with chromium in forming crystalline form of rock mineral. Ruby is a traditional gemstone that is known for its durability when used as a jewelry piece,

The head of the research team, Chris Yakymchuk, launched the research on the geology of rubies in order to have a deeper understanding of the conditions needed for the gemstone’s formation. The study was based in Greenland where country houses stand on top of the oldest known ruby deposits in the world.

What the University of Waterloo Researchers Discovered in Their Greenland Gemstone Exploration

Yakymchuk and his research team discovered in one of the deposits, a ruby sample that contained pure carbon graphite.

Graphite is considered as the most stable form of carbon based on standard conditions, as its atoms are structured in a hexagonal manner. After further analysis the researchers found out that the carbon graphite encased in the ruby was actually a fragment of early life.

What is interesting is that the graphite is said to be older than 2.5 billion years, a time period that goes back to when the Earth only had algae films and microorganisms as life forms.

Yakymchuk mentioned how unique the graphite is, as it is their first time to find such evidence of ancient life inside ruby-bearing rocks. The findings also significantly contributed to their study on how rubies are formed in that particular geographical location. Yakymchuk explained that it is impossible to base the formation of rubies on their chemical composition and color alone.

Based on their findings, the team discovered that the graphite was an imperative component for the ruby to exist as it created a favorable environment for the rubies to develop. The presence of graphite in the location modified the chemistry of the neighboring rocks. Yet without the graphite, the rubies would not have formed in the area.