Could this uninvited warning be a foreshadowing of a fossil revelation on Mars? What exactly do they mean when they say “fake fossils”? Let’s have a look.
When searching for indications of life on Mars, we often come across intriguing artifacts that seem to indicate biological life, such as objects that some anomaly hunters have interpreted as fossils, mushrooms, or even crabs based on images acquired by the rovers. However, a group of experts has issued a warning that we must be on the alert for “fake fossils” that may be plentiful on Mars.
Scientists will need to be on the lookout for non-biological mineral deposits that closely mimic fossils, according to astrobiologist Sean McMahon of the University of Edinburgh and geobiologist Julie Cosmidis of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
The duo detailed hundreds of nonbiological or abiotic processes that may form pseudo-fossils, which are fossil-like structures of tiny creatures such as those that previously lived on Mars, in recent research.
On Mars, there is a rumored preserved bug.
“A Mars rover is extremely guaranteed to come across something that looks a lot like a fossil at some time,” McMahon said. “It’s critical to be able to accurately separate them from structures and compounds formed by chemical processes.” “There is at least one non-biological mechanism that makes very comparable things for every kind of fossil that exists, so there is a tremendous need to better our knowledge of how they are made.”
This idea isn’t that shocking. Pareidolia and conspiracies are in abundance on Mars. It just takes a suggestive-looking stone to start rumors. However, since we don’t know what kind of life may have arisen on this planet, the converse could occur, with fossils being misinterpreted as simple rocks and being disregarded. For example, even here on Earth, we have a difficult time distinguishing between really ancient rocks and ancient microorganism fossils.
On the surface of Mars, something that appears like a petrified log or chunk of wood. On Sol 115, the Opportunity rover captured this image.
However, we have a higher chance of correctly interpreting what we find if we go into the investigation of any putative microfossils on Mars understanding the mechanisms that might yield pseudo-fossils.
Many physical processes related to weathering and sedimentary layer deposition may result in rocks that look suspiciously like fossils.
Another approach is the chemical garden, in which chemicals are mixed to create biological-looking structures. Also, many various kinds of minerals may mix to form biomorphs, which are pseudo-fossils that seem remarkably biological.
Pseudo-fossils in the garden are made using chemicals. Credit: J. Geol. Soc., McMahon and Cosmidis, 2021.
Additional studies, possibly even experiments, in the chemistry and physics of Mars might disclose strange undiscovered natural processes and give more information on how such formations can originate, according to the researchers. This research might potentially aid our understanding of the Earth’s rock and the fossil record.
“In the past, we’ve been duped by systems that mimicked life,” Cosmidis added. ‘Objects that seemed to be fossil bacteria have been documented in ancient rocks on Earth and even in meteorites from Mars, but deeper inspection revealed that they were not of biological origin. This essay is a cautionary tale in which we call for a greater study on the mechanisms of life imitation on Mars in order to avoid falling into the same traps again and again.
Exploring Mars with these variables in mind might not only help us better comprehend its nature, but it could also help us construct a clearer geological-biological differentiation process that seriously examines the potential that there are Martian fossils waiting to be found.