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Open AccessArticle

Ichnofossils, Cracks or Crystals? A Test for Biogenicity of Stick-Like Structures from Vera Rubin Ridge, Mars

1
DISTAV, University of Genova, Corso Europa 52, 16132 Genova, Italy
2
Geology Office, Naturtejo UNESCO Global Geopark, Avenida Zona Nova de Expansão, 6060-101 Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal
3
Instituto D. Luiz, University of Lisbon, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande Edifício C1, Piso 1, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal
4
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra ‘A. Desio’, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Mangiagalli 34, 20133 Milano, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2020, 10(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10020039
Received: 8 October 2019 / Revised: 18 December 2019 / Accepted: 27 December 2019 / Published: 21 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Biogeosciences)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: palaeontology; ichnology; ichnofossils; pseudofossils; astrobiology; biosignatures; Mars; Vera Rubin Ridge; Gale Crater; Haroldswick palaeontology; ichnology; ichnofossils; pseudofossils; astrobiology; biosignatures; Mars; Vera Rubin Ridge; Gale Crater; Haroldswick
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MDPI and ACS Style

Baucon, A.; Neto De Carvalho, C.; Felletti, F.; Cabella, R. Ichnofossils, Cracks or Crystals? A Test for Biogenicity of Stick-Like Structures from Vera Rubin Ridge, Mars. Geosciences 2020, 10, 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10020039

AMA Style

Baucon A, Neto De Carvalho C, Felletti F, Cabella R. Ichnofossils, Cracks or Crystals? A Test for Biogenicity of Stick-Like Structures from Vera Rubin Ridge, Mars. Geosciences. 2020; 10(2):39. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10020039

Chicago/Turabian Style

Baucon, Andrea; Neto De Carvalho, Carlos; Felletti, Fabrizio; Cabella, Roberto. 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

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