Scientists examining the Thorsberg quarry in Sweden have discovered a meteorite that is completely unique in its chemical make up–which is really pretty unusual, considering that there has been over 50,000 meteorites collected and identified on Earth so far, including over 100 at Thorsberg.
The curious meteorite, named Ost 65, is about the size of a tennis ball, and according to a statement from UC Davis it “looks like a gray cow patty plopped into a pristine layer of fossil-rich pink limestone.” But in spite of its dung-like formation, it might hold clues as to what happened during a “massive collision” in the asteroid belt some 470 million years ago.
“In our entire civilization, we have collected over 50,000 meteorites, and no one has seen anything like this one before. Discovering a new type of meteorite is very, very exciting.
Ost 65’s polar opposite is the L-chondrite meteorite. L-chondrite are the most common type of meteorite found on Earth, and are the product of that 470-million-year-old meteorite collision during the Ordovician Period. And for years scientists have had no idea what it was that the L-chondrite source collided with.
So a team from UC Davis and Lund University measured how long Ost 65 was exposed to cosmic rays, and were able to establish that it traveled in space for about a million years before crash landing in what is now Sweden 470 million years ago. In other words, Ost 65’s timeline matches up with that of the L-chondrites found at the same site, and could provide clues as to how live on Earth evolved.
As study coauthor Qing-zhu Yin explained in a statement:
I think this shows the interconnectedness of the entire solar system in space and time, that a random collision 470 million years ago in the asteroid belt could dictate the evolutionary path of species here on Earth.
As for where the rest of Ost 65’s source went, there’s a chance that it was completely consumed in the collision, which would make it the first documented “extinct” meteorite. If it wasn’t, then there’s a good change that parts of its source are still floating around in space; which would suggest there is a far greater diversity of rocks floating around in space–and perhaps buried here on Earth, than we know of.