Scientists have reported the discovery of “the first protein from an extraterrestrial source,” marking the only time that this important component of life has ever been found in a meteorite.

Tiny traces of a novel protein called “hemolithin” were detected inside the meteorite Acfer 086, according to a study recently published on the preprint archive arXiv and spotted by Futurism. The find could have big implications for understanding the origins of life on Earth or elsewhere in the universe, though it must be corroborated by other researchers first.

“At this point, we need other scientists to employ our careful methods to repeat our results,” said study co-author Julie McGeoch, a molecular biologist at Harvard University, in an email. McGeoch’s team has submitted the study to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, but it has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Though other teams will need to confirm the results, it’s worth noting that the new detection of a “meteoritic protein,” as it is described in the study, is the culmination of more than a decade of research.

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