Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Viruses can be Fossilised

 Viruses can be Fossilised

Professor Maurice Tucker has sent me a PAPER ON VIRUSES which he recently published in "Geology Today" which is very interesting - in several ways! 

We are all suffering, directly or indirectly, from the coronavirus. If you want a good introduction to what a virus is, Professor Tuckers paper is a good place to start. 

The numbers of viruses in almost anything are phenomenal. A normal size person may have tens of trillions of bacteria in their body, but there may be ten viruses for every bacteria. But they are much smaller. You may have 200 grams of bacteria in your body, but the much larger numbers of viruses may weigh less than 10 grams.

The only way to see a virus is with an electron microscope. So your hand lens will not be of much use to find a fossilised virus. The paper has electron microscope pictures of modern viruses being fossilised. It seems that they can become nuclei for minerals to form around, destroying their shape.

Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) images from a biofilm showing silica nanoparticles with cores of virus-like particles and solid silica nanoparticles within a bacterial cell (a) and close-up (b), from a hot spring in China. (Images courtesy of Xiaotong Peng, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya, China.)

There is lots of good stuff in the article, including a discussion on the origin of viruses and of life itself. A rewarding read!

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