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The zircon, pictured here, is from the Jack Hills region of Australia and is now confirmed to be the oldest bit of Earth's crust.

The zircon, pictured here, is from the Jack Hills region of Australia and is now confirmed to be the oldest bit of Earth's crust.

John W. Valley/University of Wisconsin, Madison

Oldest Piece of Earth Discovered

At 4.4 billion years old, geologists have discovered the oldest piece of Earth—a zircon crystal. The microscopic gem was found on a sheep farm in Australia and is about twice the diameter of a human hair, according to The Guardian. The finding, reported this week in Nature Geoscience, suggests that Earth’s crust formed much earlier than thought and supports the hypothesis of a “cool early Earth” that could sustain oceans and, perhaps, even life shortly after forming.

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