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Comet craters were melting pots for life on Earth?

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Sudbury Basin, impact from space nearly 2bya/NASA

Yes, yet another “throw enough theories at the origin of life and one of them will stick. This just in from ScienceDaily:

In a paper just published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, the team proposes that large meteorite and comet impacts into the sea created structures that provided conditions favourable for life. Water then interacted with impact-heated rock to enable synthesis of complex organic molecules, and the enclosed crater itself was a microhabitat within which life could flourish.

It has long been suggested that the meteoritic and cometary material that bombarded the early Earth delivered the raw materials — complex organic molecules, such as glycine, ß-alanine, ?-amino-n-butyric acid, and water — and the energy that was required for synthesis. The Trinity group’s work has provided the new hypothesis that impact craters were ideal environments to facilitate the reactions that saw the first ‘seeds of life’ take root.

So it was impact craters, not mud volcanoes, smokers, or pumice rafts?

There is a fundamental problem with all these theories: There’s nothing wrong in principle with the idea that life might have arisen at various times in all of these places except that

1) Such a view conflicts with the Darwinian doctrine of a single cell as the origin of life (the lucky accident)


2) It begs the question why, seriously, we have no evidence of life ever arising again separately anywhere. As we might expect, if all these hypotheses had merit.  Spontaneous generation is considered a dead idea in science.

That’s why the multitude of theories must be in perpetual conflict with each other. For example:

First author Edel O’Sullivan, now a PhD candidate in Switzerland, said: “Previous studies investigating the origin of life have focused on synthesis in hydrothermal environments. Today these are found at mid-ocean ridges — hallmark features of plate tectonics, which likely did not exist on the early Earth. By contrast, the findings of this new study suggest that extensive hydrothermal systems operated in an enclosed impact crater at Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.” More. Paper. (paywall) – Edel M. O’Sullivan, Robbie Goodhue, Doreen E. Ames, Balz S. Kamber. Chemostratigraphy of the Sudbury impact basin fill: Volatile metal loss and post-impact evolution of a submarine impact basin. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2016; 183: 198 DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2016.04.007

One turns with relief to what Carl Woese, discoverer of the archaea (a whole new kingdom of life) had to say on the emergence of the eukaryote cell in general:

Next comes the evolution of the eucaryotic cell itself. While biologist have traditionally seen it as a step (saltation) beyond the stage of bacterial cells, I do not. The idea that eukaryotic cell structure is the product of a symbioses among bacteria, and so represents a higher stage than that of the bacterial cell, goes back a good century and a half, but there has been no effort to seriously rethink the matter in the light of modern biological knowledge. Nowhere in thinking about a symbiotic origin of the eukaryotic cell has consideration been given to the fact that the process as envisioned would involve radical change of the designs of the cells involved. You cańt just tear cell designs apart and willy-nilly construct a new type of design from the parts. The cells we know are not just loosely coupled arrangements of quasi-independent modules. They are highly, intricately, and precisely integrated networks of entities and interactions. Any dismantling of a cell design would not reverse the evolution that brought it into existence; that is not possible. To think that a new cell design can be created more or less haphazardly from chunks of other modern cell design is just another fallacy born of a mechanistic, reductionist view of the organism.” – A New Biology for a New Century (2004)

Woese never received his due, probably because he was not a Darwinian.

See also: And then Bill Gates said, You’re fired! A friend sends this gem from the literature; it sounds totally oblivious of the information requirement for life.


Maybe if we throw enough models at the origin of life… some of them will stick?

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One Reply to “Comet craters were melting pots for life on Earth?

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Life must have magically arisen somehow, somewhere, without any God or gods. Why not in craters?

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