A newly released study offers proof that confirms a 150 years old theory first advanced by Charles Darwin. According to this, the emergence of life on Earth could be tied to meteorites and the building blocks they were carrying.
Initially thought impossible, it was then deemed possible, and this new research considers it to be “probable”.
Still, Ben Pearce, the lead author of the paper, states that: “It’s definitely another piece of evidence to add to the stacks—it will take a whole wealth of more science to really nail this down.”
The Emergence of Life on Earth Also Tied to “Little Warm Ponds”
The current study addresses the theory according to which the meteorites that were striking Earth on a fairly regular basis also deposited building blocks of RNA on it. This is a compound similar to the DNA, which can store data and also oversee the creation of new molecules.
The researchers analyzed what could have happened in the early days of the planet before there were any humans, hominins, or even single cell organisms. They particularly targeted and modeled the so-called “little warm ponds” of Earth.
According to the model, the frequent meteorites were likely carrying large amounts of nucleobases, on the RNA’s three types of compounds. These probably hit one of the warm and unstable ponds on Earth. These formations were determined to shrink during the dry season and expand over the wet one.
In doing so, this would have helped develop a cycle which saw the chemical elements bond while in close proximity. Then, as the pond shrunk again, these would then create new configurations. The team calculated that, after a meteorite struck such a pool, RNA might have formed within some years.
Also, the researchers argue that this might have been taking not in one but in thousands of warm ponds at a time, so “there were thousands of opportunities” for the emergence of life.
Still, other researchers expressed their doubts and even skepticism as to the study and the theory.
As it is, a paper with the study results is available in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Image Source: NASA