The GLP is committed to full transparency. Download and review our 2019 Annual Report

Was life on Earth sparked by ‘moon-sized’ impact 4.4 billion years ago?

| | January 18, 2019
1-14-2019 origin x
Image credit: Mark Garlick/Science Source
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

A cataclysm may have jump-started life on Earth. A new scenario suggests that some 4.47 billion years ago—a mere 60 million years after Earth took shape and 40 million years after the moon formed—a moon-size object sideswiped Earth and exploded into an orbiting cloud of molten iron and other debris.

After things cooled down, simple organic molecules began to form under the blanket of hydrogen. Those molecules, some scientists think, eventually linked up to form RNA, a molecular player long credited as essential for life’s dawn. In short, the stage for life’s emergence was set almost as soon as our planet was born.

That scenario captivated participants at an October 2018 conference here, where geologists, planetary scientists, chemists, and biologists compared notes on the latest thinking on how life got its start. No rocks or other direct evidence remain from the supposed cataclysm. Its starring role is inferred because it would solve a bevy of mysteries, says Steven Benner.

Related article:  Are science and religion destined to be at 'war'?

Researchers still disagree, for example, over which chemical path most likely gave rise to RNA and how that RNA combined with proteins and fats to form the earliest cells. Nevertheless, Benner says, “The field is in a new place. There is no question.”

Read full, original post: How an ancient cataclysm may have jump-started life on Earth

Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend