History

5 of the oldest meteorites found on Earth

By Marieke | 4th June 2018

Earth is bombarded with millions of tons of space material each day, and luckily most of it evaporates or falls into the ocean, but some larger pieces hit the surface. These are called meteorites. Imagine you could see everything a meteorite has seen throughout its many years of travelling. It could tell us so much about the world we live in! Meteorites are amongst the oldest items we find on earth. In fact, some are even older than the planet we live on - and presumably even our solar system. Here are some of the oldest meteorites that ever landed on Earth and the stories they tell us.

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5. Fukang - over 4.5 billion years old

One of the oldest, most expensive and most beautiful meteorites in the world is the Fukang. It was found in the Gobi desert in China’s Xinjiang Province in the year 2000. From the outside it was difficult to see any real beauty in this meteorite, but when cut open it revealed a stunning honeycomb-like mosaic of translucent olivine crystals which created an effect much like a stained glass window. This formation is known as a pallasite meteorite and these crystals are thought to be the "relics of forming planets" according to Arizona's Southwest Meteorite Laboratory. This meteorite truly is a space gem. The main mass of the Fukang meteorite weighs over 420 kilos and is valued at €1.7 million.



4. NWA 7325 - 4.562 billion years old
The Northwest Africa 7325 was found in Erfoud, Morocco in 2012. The strange-looking green rock is shrouded in mystery. Its composition is more complex than most meteorites. The stone, for example, contains a large amount of magnesium and little iron, a composition consistent with that of Mercury. Some scientists therefore suspect that the NWA 7325 is perhaps the first meteorite originating from Mercury to ever hit Earth. Others state that is not likely because of it’s age: approximately 4.562 billion years. This would date it to shortly after the formation of our solar system. Either way, this ancient interstellar stone looks stellar.

Image source: Space.com
3. Muonionalusta - 4.565 billion years old 
Although it struck our planet a million years ago, and survived 4 ice ages, the first fragment of the Muonionalusta meteorite was only discovered in 1906. It was named after the river Muonio, at the border between Sweden and Finland, above the arctic circle, where it was discovered. In October 2017, a specimen of an impressive 26.5 kilo was auctioned at Catawiki for €15,999.




2. Allende - 4.567 billion years old
In 1969, a fireball lit up the Northern Mexican sky. As the meteorite burst, numerous fragments rained down around the small village of Pueblito de Allende. Over 2000 kilos of debris have been found and new pieces are still being discovered every now and then. The Allende meteorite is one of the most studied in the world and has given us insight and a better understanding of the formation of the solar system and planets. This hefty rock from outer space contains materials that are estimated to be 4.567 billion years old, around 30 million years older than Earth!


1. Hypatia - Age yet to be determined, but believed to be pre-solar!
In early 2018 scientists announced exciting news about a small pebble found in western Egypt in 1996. Named after philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, Hypatia of Alexandria, and unlike any other meteorite discovered, the rock contains compounds that are not known to occur anywhere on our planet or the solar system! Researchers suspect that it is partly made up of particles that circulated through space before the sun, Earth and other planets of our solar system were formed. Talk about old!


Image source: Scientias

Do you want to own one of these extraterrestrial stones yourself? Take a look at our Meteorite auction and prepare to be amazed by our exceptional lots! Who knows? You might even take home a piece of one of the oldest meteorites found on Earth.

Discover more meteorites | archaeology & natural history

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