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Scientists studying an ancient meteorite crash site in the Canadian Arctic have detected traces of microbes that point to the key role played by impact craters in the evolution of life on Earth and could help determine whether life once existed on Mars.

The discovery -- hailed by an 11-member team of researchers from Canada, Britain, the United States and Sweden as a scientific "first" -- was made at Devon Island's Haughton Crater, a uniquely dry and desolate geological gem probed frequently by experts from NASA because of its Mars-like features.

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