"Why Don’t We See New Life Forms Today?" --New Research Provides Clue
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June 04, 2013

"Why Don’t We See New Life Forms Today?" --New Research Provides Clue

 

 

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An important discovery answers one of the key questions for scientist trying to unlock the processes that gave rise to early life forms: Why don’t we see new life forms today? New research explains how the reactive phosphorus that was an essential component for creating the earliest life forms came to Earth.

The scientists found that during the Hadean and Archean eons – the first of the four principal eons of the Earth’s earliest history – the heavy bombardment of meteorites provided reactive phosphorus that when released in water could be incorporated into prebiotic molecules. The scientists documented the phosphorus in early Archean limestone, showing it was abundant some 3.5 billion years ago.

“Meteorite phosphorus may have been a fuel that provided the energy and phosphorus necessary for the onset of life,” said University of South Florida's Matthew Pasek, who studies the chemical composition of space and how it might have contributed to the origins of life. “If this meteoritic phosphorus is added to simple organic compounds, it can generate phosphorus biomolecules identical to those seen in life today.”

The findings were published in the new edition of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, USF Assistant Professor of Geology Pasek and researchers from the University of Washington and the Edinburg Centre for Carbon Innovation. The team concluded that the meteorites delivered phosphorus in minerals that are not seen on the surface of the Earth, and these minerals corroded in water to release phosphorus in a form seen only on the early Earth.

“The present research shows that this is indeed the case: Phosphorus chemistry on the early Earth was substantially different billions of years ago than it is today,” Pasek said.

The research team reached their conclusion after examining Earth core samples from Australia, Zimbabwe, West Virginia, Wyoming and in Avon Park, Florida

Previous research had showed that before the emergence of modern DNA-RNA-protein life that is known today, the earliest biological forms evolved from RNA alone. What has stumped scientists, however, was understanding how those early RNA–based life forms synthesized environmental phosphorus, which in its current form is relatively insoluble and unreactive.

Meteorites would have provided reactive phosphorus in the form of the iron–nickel phosphide mineral schreibersite, which in water released soluble and reactive phosphite. Phosphite is the salt scientists believe could have been incorporated into prebiotic molecules.

Of all of the samples analyzed, only the oldest, the Coonterunah carbonate samples from the early Archean of Australia, showed the presence of phosphite, Other natural sources of phosphite include lightning strikes, geothermal fluids and possibly microbial activity under extremely anaerobic condition, but no other terrestrial sources of phosphite have been identified and none could have produced the quantities of phosphite needed to be dissolved in early Earth oceans that gave rise to life, the researchers concluded.

The scientists said meteorite phosphite would have been abundant enough to adjust the chemistry of the oceans, with its chemical signature later becoming trapped in marine carbonate where it was preserved.

It is still possible, the researchers noted, that other natural sources of phosphite could be identified, such as in hydrothermal systems. While that might lead to reducing the total meteoric mass necessary to provide enough phosphite, the researchers said more work would need to be done to determine the exact contribution of separate sources to what they are certain was an essential ingredient to early life.

The Daily Galaxy via USF

Comments

With most of the world's oceans essentially unexplored biologically, and even more of the subterranean biosphere unexplored, the presumption that new life forms are not arising is a bit premature.

Further, any completely new life form would be far too simple to compete with existing ones, and would be unlikely to survive in any of the crowded ecosystems we know well. For completely new, pre-cellular life forms to reach discoverable populations, they'd have to start in a ecosystem with not only the right conditions, but nothing capable of consuming them.

Does such a ecosystem exist any more on Earth?

Cool info!

natural selection plays out over thousands of years or generations. Technically no one will ever see an evolved/new life form unless it hasn't been discovered yet.

Following the Archean era the earliest life being bacteria thrived in a methane rich atmosphere and through their biogenic processes synthesized oxygen from what is to us a toxic gas. This biogenic process eventually created a oxygen rich environment that would cause the extinction event marked by the end of the Ordovician. Basically these early methane dependant bacteria secreted themselves to death while setting up the environment for more complex forms of life to evolve. My point here is that all the life that has existed in the past through their life processes has created the environment and future resources for the next higher stage that would proceed them. The rate of mutational change in life is relative to the energy flux of the sun and its cyclical relationship with the geological time scale marking all 5 of the major cataclysmic extinction events in the Earths past. Extrapolate with your mind what human beings mean for the future of this process; I myself like to compare it to a Aphid turning into a butterfly.

Our genetic engineering of food stocks have created new life forms in front of our eyes so the title of the article is a false question. "Why don’t we see new life forms today"? ???


New species, subspecies are evolving as we speak! True for birds, plants, bacteria, viruses, etc.

Not sure what this title is trying to say.

sometimes i wonder that everything evolved from something but from what entity did our power of conscience and our abiity to select a 'right' path evolve. I mean there is no apparent connection between matter and conscience, then how come that it evolved in such fine form in us humans.

ONE PARADISE
-- James Ph. Kotsybar

The double helix seems essential for
what we call life to survive and endure.
One molecule was life’s first ancestor.
This may be true, but no one knows for sure.

Evolving from one strand of DNA,
when amino acids were lightning struck,
life reproduced itself in an array
of forms from this unlikely bit of luck.

On Earth, we think, life happened only once,
and all the organisms present here –
from ocean plankton to the beast that hunts –
were given only one chance to appear.

For life, our planet seems a paradise,
and yet, we’ve never seen it happen twice.

RECIPE FOR LIFE (a haiku)
-- James Ph. Kotsybar

Ammonia, methane,
electro-­‐magnetic spark –
primordial soup.

I would like to be respected like most people would. I have been trying to open the eyes of everyone by telling a story i know well, because im living it. I have been living with a new life form.could you please help us in are quest. His name is brian an is my best friend. See when you do have a discovery its hard to get people to believe . An who do you talk to to make that discocery. Im not giving up he has hopes an dreams too.

Michael Adamson
503-421-8771


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