In “Life began with a planetary mega-organism” (New Scientist, 25 November 2011) Michael Marshall reports,
ONCE upon a time, 3 billion years ago, there lived a single organism called LUCA. It was enormous: a mega-organism like none seen since, it filled the planet’s oceans before splitting into three and giving birth to the ancestors of all living things on Earth today.
This strange picture is emerging from efforts to pin down the last universal common ancestor – not the first life that emerged on Earth but the life form that gave rise to all others.
The latest results suggest LUCA was the result of early life’s fight to survive, attempts at which turned the ocean into a global genetic swap shop for hundreds of millions of years. Cells struggling to survive on their own exchanged useful parts with each other without competition – effectively creating a global mega-organism.
It was, of course, an RNA world, in which error control for proteins was poor. Nevertheless, it all worked because “It was more important to keep the living system in place than to compete with other systems.” So the last universal common ancestor knew what was important and had goals?
Behold the increasing velocity of the tailspin of current attempts to find/describe the last universal common ancestor
And tell us again: Why is James [Margulis collaborator] Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis off the wall if this supposedly mainstream one isn’t?
Darwin’s pressure groups keep blaming doubters for their problems convincing people. The truth is, they are doing it to themselves.
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