We are NOT Alone: Thoughts on Comets and Meteorites – Where Life Began?

Marianne Schmidt and Philip Jamieson

Featured image is of a meteor during the peak of the 2009 Leonid Meteor Shower, showing the meteor, afterglow, and wake as distinct components. Image and description by Navicore – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8736621

“[A] fiery devil ran down from the sun and made his home in the earth” Aboriginal elder in 1932 describing the Henbury meteorite crater field

Earlier this year, after attending the Cosmic Conciousness Conference in Uluru in Australia’s Central Desert Region, we had the opportunity to visit two very special sites in the area: the Henbury meteorite crater field and Gosses Bluff. Both are significant in the dreaming of the local Arrernte Aboriginal people. And to our mind in those dreaming stories is understanding and insight relevant as much for modern humanity as for the Arrernte peoples themselves.

The Earth Impact Database lists 190 confirmed impact structures across the planet, of which 27 are in Australia. The Henbury meteorite crater field and Gosses Bluff are 2 of the 10 sites to be found in the Northern Territory. In modern science the cosmic origins of these two land forms differ, deriving from meteoric impact in the case of the Henbury meteorite craters and from cometary impact in the case of Gosses Bluff.


View of part of the Henbury meteorite crater field taken by the authors

The Henbury meteorite crater field lies around 125 km south west of Alice Springs. The meteor responsible broke up before impact resulting in more than a dozen impact craters ranging in width from 7 metres to as much as 180 metres. The impacts occurred less than 5000 years ago, when Aboriginal peoples were already living in the vicinity and, as is suggested by the quote with which we opened this paper, are to be found within their oral traditions, a living memory of the event. This quote is in fact sourced from the work of two noted researchers in this field, Drs Duane Hamacher and John Goldsmith, Aboriginal Oral Traditions of Australian Impact Craters, who (while acknowledging the possibility of subsequent post-colonial intrusion) have reported a number of oral traditions of Australian impact craters amongst Aboriginal communities. Today we appreciate that Aboriginal peoples have maintained accurate oral traditions dating back 10,000 years and more, traditions for example recording sea level changes over thousands of years and describing the creation of the volcanic Eacham, Barrine, and Euramo crater lakes in Far North Queensland. And from memory techniques outlined in writings such as Lynne Kelly’s The Memory Code we have gained some insights into the ways in which Aboriginal peoples, and other ancient cultures, may have achieved this.

Gosses Bluff

View inside Gosses Bluff crater taken by the authors

Gosses Bluff (called Tnorala in the Western Arrernte language), on the other hand, is believed to have been formed by a cometary impact more than 140 million years ago, well before humans were known to be present on Earth. It lies around 170 km west of Alice Springs. Although it is an overall 22 km in width this original crater rim is now eroded away and only the central uplift ring-shaped mountain range remains, some 5 km wide and a couple of hundred metres high.

Given its age, unlike the Henbury craters, there can be no living memory of its formation. It is however the subject of an Aboriginal creation story. As appears from an information board at the site:

In the Dreamtime, a large group of women danced across the sky, as the milky way. They were stars taking the form of women. During the ceremonial dance of the Milky Way Women, a mother put her baby aside, resting in his turna … a wooden baby carrier. The turna toppled over the edge of the dancing area and fell to the earth. The baby fell down into the ground and his turna fell hard on top of him. At the place where it crashed into the ground, rocks were forced up from underneath, forming the circular walls of Tnorala. The Milky Way Baby was covered with sand and hidden from view. The mother, as the Evening Star, and the father, as the Morning Star, are still looking for their missing baby.”


Image of Gosses Bluff crater by NASA/ISS Expedition 7 crew member – NASA Earth Observatory, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10870849

The story is well known for its consistency with our scientific beliefs about the formation of the crater – an object of cosmic origin falling from the sky. Given this, Drs. Hamacher and Goldsmith have allowed that “[i]t is probable that scientists researching the site had some influence on local traditions”. However, we believe that consideration of the totality of the Dreaming story points very strongly to its traditional (and pre-colonial) origins.

While we were at the site, Marianne’s attention was drawn to the role of the baby in the story. The baby is of course new life – new life which fell to Earth, brought by what we in our modern scientific understanding believe was a comet (and, as Marianne has observed, with the interesting “coincidence” that an anagram of “comet” is “me cot”). Not just a massive object falling to Earth, some great rock or stone crashing into and scarring the landscape, but an object most unusual for such an outcome – a baby.

Moreover, this theme of the cosmic arrival of new life is reinforced in a further information board at the site relating that:

Tnorala was a special place where many bush foods were created by rubbing certain special rocks made by the falling star, the Milky Way baby. On the baby’s body were many sacred stories, about food and other matters of importance, which were held in these rocks. Men were responsible for some rocks and women for others. Each rock represented a particular bush food. Men or women used to rub the rock and sing, so that there would be a good supply of the food that rock represented.

It appears from this that singing and rubbing the cometary debris created or boosted the production of certain bush foods. As we considered this sign, Marianne wondered whether the practice of singing and rubbing may have resulted in vibrational alignment with the bush food and through this process have a positive impact on the production of food by that plant. Perhaps such an alignment could serve to activate energies in the rock, energies that would interact with the terrestrial environment, bringing forward the bush food in abundance. Billy Griffiths, in his recent text, Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia, brings to mind a similar process in relating the Australian anthropologist Charles Mountford’s observations of elders rubbing rocks “to release their life essence in the course of ceremonies to maintain and increase natural resources”.

The parallels to the theory of Panspermia are obvious – the theory that life is distributed through the Universe by cosmic visitors such as comets and meteorites. Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe has been an influential proponent of the theory through much of his very long career. While it has received relatively little attention in main stream media, it is of particular interest that, in a jointly authored piece published in Current Science last November, he (along with six other scientists) issued a prescient warning of a potential imminent viral pandemic. They commented that as the Earth was predicted during 2019 to experience perhaps the deepest sunspot minimum for a century (the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 comes immediately to mind), we could expect a consequent general weakening of Earth’s magnetic field and an accompanying increase in the flux of cosmic rays as well as electrically charged interstellar and interplanetary dust particles. The authors noted the growing evidence that these dust particles include biological entities, and suggested that an increase in their incidence on the Earth is therefore to be expected at such times. Their conclusion:

On the basis of this data, there appears to be a prima facie case for expecting new viral strains to emerge over the coming months and so it would be prudent for Public Health Authorities the world over to be vigilant and prepared for any necessary action. We need hardly to be reminded that the spectre of the 1918 devastating influenza pandemic stares us in the face from across a century.

Needless to say, we are strong believers in Professor Wickramasinghe’s work. Equally, while we agree with his conclusion in his recent co-authored book, Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars: The Panspermia Revolution and the Origins of Humanity, that “[o]n the basis of all the available facts the theory is vindicated beyond any doubt”, it nevertheless remains controversial and outside mainstream science. We are sceptical that the Arrernte people would have adapted their oral traditions to accommodate such a “fringe” scientific thesis, yet it is to our minds unquestionably an allusion at the heart of the Gosses Bluff Dreaming story.

Moreover, the essence of the story so understood is also to be found in other Central Desert Aboriginal traditions recounted by Dr Hamacher – for example, a tradition of the Western Arrernte peoples that the first human couple originated from a pair of stones thrown from the sky by a spirit, and in the Luritja Dreaming (whose lands border those of the Arrernte to the west and south) describing how life was brought to Earth by a meteorite called Kulu.

And now modern science is grudgingly finding its way towards a similar understanding. In a paper published in December 2019 in Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, the presence in comets of complex organic molecules (including the building blocks of life) having been “amply confirmed”, it was commented that there is increasing scientific support for the view that impacting comets brought living entities to Earth. And nor, according to this paper, are we speaking only of microbial life but potentially the genetic products of evolved life, even perhaps the cryopreserved complex mature animals themselves, the authors referring to their previous speculation on exactly such a scenario for the emergence on Earth some 275 million years ago of Cephalopods through cryopreserved octopus eggs.

So, as modern science starts to converge with Aboriginal oral tradition, it is worth considering that tradition more carefully. We believe that there is likely even more to be learned if we are open to new understanding. In our view, another aspect of the traditions described on the information boards at Gosses Bluff provides one such opportunity.

As we noted earlier, one of the boards related that “[o]n the baby’s body were many sacred stories, about food and other matters of importance, which were held in these rocks”. The belief that these rocks held sacred stories points to their being encoded in some manner with information (perhaps from their origin) conveyed through energies.

It is well accepted in modern science that rocks may have properties not evident to our five senses, magnetism, radiation and electrical conductivity being obvious examples. Indeed in one of our recent blog posts, Central Australia’s Caterpillar Dreaming: Gleaning an insight into Indigenous ritual and ceremony, we postulated that the presence at a ceremonial site of a mineral such as galena (with its one way electrical semiconductivity) would have enhanced the ability of a shaman undertaking rituals at that site to receive (or “download”) energies. In that regard, it is also interesting to note the recent report in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America that superconducting alloys have been discovered in two meteorites. Superconductivity allows for the flow of electric current without any resistance and it is intriguing to speculate upon possible implications for ancient practices of its presence in at least some meteorites.

Another property of some rocks that is well known to modern science is that information may be stored in certain types of rocks. In 2016, scientists at the University of Southhampton reported that they had been able to load a massive 360TB of digital data onto a small quartz disk, stating that they believed that it would remain stable for as long as 13.8 billion years at temperatures up to 190°C. So it is not a big step to consider the possibility that cometary and meteoritic debris might possess properties of such a nature, simply not as yet understood by modern science.

Nor is it clear how extensive these properties might be. To our minds it will be the nature of the energies embodied in the cosmic debris that will define those properties. Albert Einstein is often quoted as having observed that “[e]verything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality that you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics”. Although there is actually no substantive evidence that Einstein did say this, the concept that “everything is energy” has a compelling intuitive appeal and indeed it is one intrinsic to quantum physics. As so elegantly expressed by Nikola Tesla: “[i]f you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration”. We believe that it will be these elements that underlie whatever properties these cosmic visitors may have gifted the planet. Thus, it would appear that the energies in the rocks of the “baby’s body” at Gosses Bluff are able to be “read” by those members of the Arrernte community who with sacred knowledge are able to attune themselves to the frequencies of these energies. Whether those with this ability fully understand how these energies operate is irrelevant. It is enough that over many millenia the evidence of their operation has been demonstrated in the human experience of interacting with this cosmic debris. It is equally open to modern society to review its own collective experience for such evidence.

Another possible example of the impact of meteoritic debris on Aboriginal culture is in southwest Tasmania. Here can be found the 800,000 year old Darwin meteorite impact crater. In her book, Archaeology of the Dreamtime (2004 edition), Dr Josephine Flood concludes of Aboriginal Pleistocene sites within the general vicinity of the crater that they “show a higher degree of archaeological richness, complexity and variability than any other known Australian Pleistocene sites”. Darwin glass (glass formed as a result of the meteorite impact) has been found at each of these sites (within around 100 km of the crater), in at least some cases manufactured into cutting tools and scrapers. Yet at a site only another 10 km or so distant, in central Tasmania, no Darwin glass has been found – and the site also shows “significant distinctions in technology, raw materials, faunal quantities and processing strategies”, “supporting the idea that the eastern border of the Southwestern geographic zone also marked a human behavioural boundary in the late Pleistocene”.

We would suggest that it is the presence of the Darwin glass that may provide the explanation for these distinctive behavioural differences. And the distinctive presence noted by Flood of rock art in the area we believe speaks against these behavioural differences being simply the result of some technological advantage provided by the glass. Rather, there is in our view a case to be made that it was the energies in the meteoritic glass that impacted the population using it.

In a similar vein, as mentioned in Marianne’s article in New Dawn magazine last year, Peru – The Truth Revealed, it is noteworthy that the Incas (and perhaps pre-Inca cultures as well) were cultivating crops in the Moray meteor craters at a level of sophistication not found elsewhere at that time.

It is also possible that meteorites and comets could be responsible for genetic changes. We already know, for example, that radiation (which occurs naturally in various terrestrial rocks) may effect genetic change, as observed in a number of animal species.

The Chicxulub crater buried under Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula may provide just such an example of genetic change resulting from the arrival of a cosmic visitor. This crater is the result of a meteorite impact some 66 million years ago made famous for the widespread belief that it resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs. At least suggestive of its impact on human genetics is the fact that geneticists have yet to fully explain the wide array of genetic diversity within the indigenous Mexican community. One study in 2014 found the genetics of some groups of indigenous Mexicans to be as divergent from each other as are Europeans and East Asians. This enormous degree of diversity being attributed to geographic isolation is not an explanation we find to be entirely convincing.

Another tantalising clue as to how this meteoritic impact may have impacted life on Earth is provided in a 2016 study which drilled into the seafloor beneath the Chicxulub crater. While the impact of the meteorite is widely perceived as a destroyer of life, causing the extinction of 75% of plant and animal species on Earth, the study found that a subsurface hydrothermal system created by the impact appears to have provided an environment for the development relatively soon after of a productive, indeed thriving, habitable ecosystem. The results of the study were seen as supporting the “Impact-Origin of Life Hypothesis”, that such meteorite impacts provide habitats for the creation of life. But is it not equally possible that life itself was brought by the meteorite, prospering and evolving in the subsurface hydrothermal system created?

In a similar vein a recent study published in Scientific Reports (Nature Publisher Group) has supported the hypothesis that a cosmic event (most likely an airburst that may have been accompanied by ground impacts from fragments) occurred at Abu Hureyra in Syria around 12,800 years ago (at the same time as it has been posited that there were multiple airbursts/impacts on at least four continents resulting in the much talked about Younger Dryas boundary layer). While one theory noted in the study is that this impact triggered climate change which in turn “caused the prehistoric villagers at Abu Hureyra to transition from hunting/gathering to cultivation, indicative of earliest agriculture, one of the most significant cultural transformations in human history”, could it not be a viable possibility that this cultural transformation was actually facilitated by something associated with the impacts themselves?

One way of viewing the changes wrought by these impact events could be as “software upgrades” to the template of life operating on the planet at the time. There are many ways this could occur including through the introduction of new molecules and/or microbes or even through the activation of dormant DNA. The 2018 film Annihilation provides an engaging fictional illustration of these ideas. Its plot concerns a mysterious ‘shimmer’ that centres on a lighthouse where a meteorite appears to have landed. During the course of the film it is revealed that the shimmer is acting as a prism which refracts everything in the near vicinity – including the DNA of plants, animals and humans – transforming them in new and unexpected ways.


Many UFO shaped clouds observed from the Henbury Craters during the authors’ visit


Close up Photo of one of the unusual UFO-like cloud formations taken while the authors were at the Henbury Meteorite craters

It was interesting to us that, as we visited the site of the Henbury meteorite craters, reflecting on the impacts of such extra-terrestrial visitors, we were presented with a sky littered with cloud formations each strongly reminiscent of the classic UFO image; a synchronous event which we took to be directing our attention to what we were seeing and prompting Marianne to observe that an anagram of “meteors” is “more ETs”.

This experience emphasised to us that the defining message of our visits to these two impact sites in Central Australia must surely be that “We are NOT alone.…”. We have been sent information (in the form of encoded energies) and the building blocks of life from distant parts of the universe. These have been absorbed into our biological structures (not only of humans but indeed of all life on this planet) and, in some cases, incorporated into our knowledge, understanding and spiritual belief systems. Just as modern Australia is often characterised as a nation of immigrants, it appears this is also true at another level – both in the distant past and for as long as we continue to be the recipient of meteoritic and cometary debris.

This article is intended to share the personal opinions of the authors and is not an attempt to persuade others of their absolute truth. If they offer a new perspective that resonates with you, then we would encourage you to leverage this work to further your own investigations. The quickest way to revealing the truth is through combining forces and pooling knowledge. A group effort is what is called for now if we are to reveal the truth of our human origins and future evolutionary path.



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