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A middle-aged planet looks back at its youth in new exhibit

A new permanent exhibit which opened last Tuesday at the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum addresses the world’s oldest and at times controversial question: where life originated and how old life is by using fossils and rocks to help with the dating process.
Exploration was done in various parts of Utah including the Northern region near Salt Lake, and also near the border with Nevada.
“In Utah the oldest fossils were 742 million years old,” Museum Director Kenneth Carpenter said, revealing a possible clue as to how old humans and earth are. They also found a rock that was dated 2.8 billion years old. “What’s interesting is that the environment was very different back then,” Carpenter continued, noting that there were numerous challenges to life developing and finding food sources. The environment was extremely dry and barren. “When it did rain there was nothing to protect the surface,” Carpenter stated, noting the extreme shifts in weather patterns.
The life forms that were in existence were that of single celled organisms who then eventually evolved into multiple celled organisms. “When life started to diversify, that’s when things got interesting,” Carpenter continued.
The exhibit has different diagrams explaining the important roles that the different geological periods play in defining how old earth is. The museum hopes that this is just the first phrase of a series of exhibits that will be displayed. However, the museum is waiting for trilobite fossils to be extracted. A preliminary date for this time next year is set up for the next phrase of the project.
The topic of the age of earth is sometimes seen as a controversial one because of the divide between the religious and scientific communities as each one tries to explain the origins of life.

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