“Silica Biomorphs” are self-assembled nanocrystals of barium carbonate that form in silica-rich environments. Their morphologies are highly reminiscent of the shapes of primitive life (discovered in Archean cherts), but the precipitates are clearly inorganic and form without intervention of any organic material. The concept of morphology and symmetry has always been used to divide the world into two large groups: the realm of the inanimate and the realm of the living. The object of this study is not to debate the truthfulness of the microfossils, but to understand the laws that control the formation and the shape of polycrystalline structures and to underline the false notion that the living and abiotic realms can be distinguished on the basis of their morphology.

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