Scientists date Earth crystal at 4.4B years old - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Scientists date Earth crystal at 4.4B years old

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A 4.4 billion-year-old crystal is the oldest piece of Earth ever discovered. (Source: John Valley/University of Wisconsin/CNN) A 4.4 billion-year-old crystal is the oldest piece of Earth ever discovered. (Source: John Valley/University of Wisconsin/CNN)

(CNN) – Scientists have discovered the oldest piece of Earth ever found.

The crystal – called a "zircon" is 4.4 billion years old, according to new findings published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The crystal is microscopic, roughly 400 micrometers long, or about the size of four human hairs.

Scientists say the crystal is red, but turns blue when bombarded with electrons used to study it.

The piece of crystal was first uncovered in Perth, Australia in 2001.

The data is telling more about the planet, too: scientists say the crystal suggests the Earth cooled faster than previously thought, and could have contained water 4.4 billion years ago – and possibly even early life.

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