London:A small brown-black rock that landed near a Dutch village in 1873 is actually a rare meteorite that may be as old as the solar system which formed roughly 4.6 billion years ago, scientists say.
The meteorite has an unusual composition and may contain complex molecules that could perhaps have played a role in the origin of life on Earth, researchers said.
The rock, weighing 68 grammes, fell near Diepenveen, a village in the Eastern Netherlands, accompanied by a blinding light and hissing sound on 27th October 1873.
In 2012, nearly 140 years later, amateur astronomer and former Director of the Eise Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker, Henk Nieuwenhuis, came across the rock in a camping site, as part of a collection belonging to a Mrs L Kiers.
"I really couldn`t believe my eyes," said Nieuwenhuis who straightaway recognised the rock as a carbonaceous meteorite.
Nieuwenhuis` identification of this rock as a meteorite was later confirmed through research carried out by astronomer Niek de Kort of the Royal Netherlands Association for Meteorology and Astronomy (KNVWS) and geoscientists Marco Langbroek and Wim van Westrenen of the VU University of Amsterdam.
Initially sceptical, the scientists became very excited as they realised that the rock was indeed an unrecognised Dutch meteorite.
It belongs to the relatively large class of so-called `stony meteorites` but within this class, there is a rare sub-class known as `carbonaceous chondrites`, to which only about one per cent of all meteorites belong, and the Diepenveen meteorite is one of these.
Carbonaceous chondrites can contain complex molecules which may have played a role in the origin of life on Earth.
Analysis of a small piece of the Diepenveen has shown that it does indeed contain organic molecules but what those are exactly is now the subject of further research.
The meteorite`s former owner, Mrs L Kiers, presented the `Diepenveen` to the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in The Netherlands.
As part of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center`s scientific collection, the rock will still be accessible for further research and it will also be officially included on the international list of meteorites.