Microfossils have been separated and identified in four high metamorphic grade chondrites from Allan Hills and Queen Alexandra Range, Antarctica. Diatoms and opal phytoliths representing both marine and terrestrial flora were recognized among the dust removed from cracks in all meteorites studied. It is likely that contamination of Antarctic meteorites with such biogenic material is ubiquitous. Standard clean room procedures to avoid laboratory introduction of microfossils into the meteorites were followed, and the genera and species identified so far are characteristic of marine, freshwater, and continental environments. The most probable mechanism for introduction of the microfossils into the meteorites is eolian transport to and on the polar ice cap. It is likely that wind-driven systems may sample atmospherically transported material from large portions of the southern hemisphere. Entrainment of terrestrial microfossils is probably a typical interaction of meteorites with the Antarctic environment and must be recognized and accounted for in any attempt to use Antarctic meteorites as sources of extraterrestrial life forms. Organic molecules derived from microfossils are likely to be pervasive throughout any crack network present in a meteorite at all scales from millimeter to submicron. Cracks are a ubiquitous consequence of weathering in and on the Antarctic ice and the probability that crack surfaces contain terrestrial organic materials is high.
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