The Red Planet
Mars is known as the 'red planet' and is currently under close scrutiney. We are looking for
"life on Mars." At Pittsford, New York, occurs an interesting sequence of rocks formed over
400 million years ago. Over an expanse of hundreds of miles, this region may have looked
like Mars! When we examine the layers of sediments, there is little evidence of life. Yet, a
thin sequence of black shale and intercalated beds of yellowish waterlimes and fine-grained
dolostones reveals bizarre creatures. If this thin layer were not encountered, we would say
there is 'little evidence that life ever existed in Pittsford.'
Red is an indication of 'Iron.'
When it is oxidized, it is red -
rust. In other forms, it can
exhibit greens or yellows or
browns. I have always been
fascinated by this interesting
planet. What will we find in any
sedimentary deposits we find on
Mars? Will there be trackways of
prehistoric animals like those we
find here on Earth? Or actual
fossils of complex animals that
may have existed before Mars
became a visually barren planet?
ABOVE: A possible outcropping of sedimentary rock on the red planet. Even if there is
absolutely no evidence of life on Mars at the present, even the smallest of cells, the
sedimentary rock record just might yield evidence of past life of millions of years ago just as
Earth has preserved an enormous record of life evolving through the ages.