Now the forces of skepticism have gathered to burst everyone's bubble. In an article published Thursday in the journal Nature, dissenting scientists give it their best shot: Sorry, they say, we're afraid that what appear to be fossilized worms are really sheets of minerals viewed edge-on. In other words: it's not bugs; it's a geological feature. This new analysis "dramatically lessens the probability" of life on Mars, said J.P. Bradley, one of the report's co-authors.
Not that the NASA researchers are taking this lightly. Nature even took the unusual step of printing their rebuttal in the same issue. "There's a lot going on in the (scientific) community of trying to ‘shoot this down,’ " Everett Gibson, co-leader of the agency's asteroid team, told the Associated Press. He added that he was "more convinced than ever" of the fossil's authenticity. And so the debate continues to rage — to be settled, perhaps, only when the little green men come forward in person.