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Scientists Found a Rock in the Sahara. It's Older Than Earth

It is a piece from a destroyed protoplanet.
IMAGE SHUTTERSTOCK
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Last year, a meteoric rock landed in the Sahara Desert, where it was found by a team of scientists from the Université de Bretagne Occidentale. When they analyzed the composition of the rock, they discovered it was a piece of a destroyed protoplanet that once existed before Earth.

The results of the study were published in the scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), which dated the rock to be 4.565 billion years old—roughly 25 million years older than Earth.

Piece of a Destroyed Protoplanet

According to the scientists, the rare meteorite is an “andesite from an extinct chondritic protoplanet,” which formed during the earlier stages of the Solar System. 

A chondrite is a type of meteorite that has survived through modification (like melting) by its parent body, such as a protoplanet. Chondrites are formed when grains from the early Solar System are attracted to each other, forming a solid mass. 

According to the research paper, it is very rare to find remains of a protoplanet because they are usually accreted into the bodies of other planets, and even rarer for one to land on Earth for scientists to study. 

“Their remains are not detected in the asteroid belt because their parent bodies served as the building blocks for larger rocky bodies or were nearly totally destroyed,” reads the paper. 

The rock has been named Erg Chech 002 (EC 002), after the area (Erg Chech) where it was found in the Sahara.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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