Ichnofossils, Cracks or Crystals? A Test for Biogenicity of Stick-Like Structures from Vera Rubin Ridge, Mars
New images from Mars rover Curiosity display millimetric, elongate stick- like structures in the fluvio-lacustrine deposits of Vera Rubin Ridge, the depositional environment of which has been previously acknowledged as habitable. Morphology, size and topology of the structures are yet incompletely known and their biogenicity remains untested. Here we provide the first quantitative description of the Vera Rubin Ridge structures, showing that ichnofossils, i.e., the product of life-substrate interactions, are among their closest morphological analogues. Crystal growth and sedimentary cracking are plausible non-biological genetic processes for the structures, although crystals, desiccation and syneresis cracks do not typically present all the morphological and topological features of the Vera Rubin Ridge structures. Morphological analogy does not necessarily imply biogenicity but, given that none of the available observations falsifies the ichnofossil hypothesis, Vera Rubin Ridge and its sedimentary features are here recognized as a privileged target for astrobiological research.
Baucon, Andrea, Carlos Neto De Carvalho, Fabrizio Felletti, and Roberto Cabella. 2020. “Ichnofossils, Cracks or Crystals? A Test for Biogenicity of Stick-Like Structures from Vera Rubin Ridge, Mars” Geosciences 10, no. 2: 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10020039