Evidence is starting to accumulate over the origins of life on Earth… only, if the latest murmurings from the scientific community are to be believed, we may not actually be from Earth. Leading experts are starting to raise the question, are we really of Martian descent?
Scientific experts recently convened at the Goldschmidt conference in Florence to discuss a variety of topics, including the ancestral roots of the biological organisms of Earth and the conditions required for life to succeed.
According to Steven Benner, based at The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Florida, biological life most likely hitched a ride to Earth on a meteorite. These meteorites were cast off from the surface of the Red Planet, following a series of violent volcanic eruptions, and made their way to our luscious planet.
Presenting his findings on Aug. 29, Benner maintains that Earth could not have sparked life, due to the absence of the oxidized form of a crucial component – an element called molybdenum. Apparently, oxidized molybdenum is required for life to develop, but would not have been present on Earth due to the low levels of oxygen within the planet’s atmosphere, all those billions of years ago.
In stark contrast, however, Mars was home to the oxidized form of molybdenum. This information, in part, has lead Benner to draw the tentative conclusion that life on Earth was originally harbored on the highly volatile surface of Mars, perhaps suggesting human beings to have Martian origins.
To facilitate the emergence of life, organic matter must be provided with an energy form (e.g. heat/light), as well as a catalyst, such as oxidized molybdenum or boron. Boron can accelerate the formation of carbohydrate rings, whereas molybdenum can aid in the formation of genetic material, called ribonucleic acid (RNA).
Failure to deliver these essential components results in wasted potential and, according to Benner, these molecules will alternatively form a tar-like amalgamation:
“Certain elements seem able to control the propensity of organic materials to turn to tar, particularly boron and molybdenum, so we believe that minerals containing both were fundamental to life first starting.”
Indeed, during a recent investigation of the contents of a Martian meteorite, scientists corroborated the presence of boron on the surface of Mars.
These conclusions are only strengthened by looking at the conditions of each planet, prior to the inception of biological life. They speculate that Earth would have been almost entirely covered in water and would not have been conducive to formation of boron; boron requires dry areas to form, the conditions of which would have been found on Mars, not Earth. Such water is also corrosive to RNA, a nucleotide sequence analogous to Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Interestingly, many scientists believe that RNA (as opposed to DNA) was the first genetic molecule used by living organisms.
According to BBC News, Benner explains how tremendously lucky mankind is that we were able to survive the inhospitable journey through space, and then concluded his thoughts on the origins of life on Earth:
“The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock.”
If these conclusions are confirmed to be sound, and life survived the treacherous journey through space, the human race could classify itself as Martian in origin. Although it may not make any difference to our overall place in the galaxy, it’s certainly fascinating stuff. Personally, I already had my suspicions, based upon some of the performances seen at the recent VMA awards ceremony.
By: James Fenner