We’ve all heard the theory that life on Earth originated on Mars, but now there is fresh evidence to support it.
New research presented at a recent scientific conference suggests that the Red Planet was actually a much better place for life billions of years ago and therefore the very likely source of the first living cells that appeared on Earth.
The theory was presented at the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology by Professor Steven Benner. According to generally accepted theory, life appeared on Earth 3.5 billion years ago as the planet began to cool down. The drop in temperatures allowed the formation of simple organic compounds, which then combined into polymers and eventually became the first protocells.
Evidence suggests that these first cells used RNA replication and that life forms switched to DNA replication a lot later. But according to Benner, this theory of RNA replication does not hold, as the process would have been very rare if Earth was indeed submerged in water back then.
The formation of RNA requires two essential components: borate and molybdate and if these are absent, organic molecules dissolved in water result in tar instead of RNA. But both borate and molybdate would have been scarce on Earth billions of years ago.
However, Benner says the minerals would have been abundant on Mars, something confirmed by the recent analysis of Martian meteorite. Scientists have collected and tested 120 Martian meteorites so far and most of them indicate that both catalysts needed for RNA replication were present on the Red Planet.
Another element that further supports the theory is that water is corrosive to RNA, so replication would have been a lot more likely to happen on Mars, which had significantly less water than Earth did.
According to banner, the most recent evidence adds extra weight to the theory that “we are actually all Martians” and that life on Earth actually started on the Red Planet and came here “on a rock.”
While we are still a longs distance from seeing definitive proof of the actual origins of life, the latest discoveries give hope that we will eventually find life on Mars and other worlds. What do you think of the theory? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
[Image via Telegraph]