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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.
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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