Origin Of Life

How could a “sophisticated cellular organism” emerge from eruptions, gushes, and crashes?

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self-organizing phospholipids/ Villarreal

Specifically?

In a recent edition of The Scientist , we were told that the last universal common ancestor was “a sophisticated cellular organism.” Yet many OOL researchers hold that life’s origin depends on eruptions, gushes, smokers, floating pumice, flowing mud, orbiting dust, or crashed comets. Need one be an ID sympathizer to see a disconnect between the process and the product? Would even a windup alarm clock be produced this way?

My latest essay on origin of life at Evolution News & Views focuses on specific unusual places where life might possibly have originated:

There are also black smokers to consider. Fossils of deep-sea microbes (1.43 billion years old) have been found around their chemical-rich “chimneys,” which host microbes today. Chemist Günter Wächtershäuser and others argue that the exotic conditions near such volcanoes once hosted life midwifed by metal catalysts, rather than by the substances or environments that we regard as natural today.

Some dispute the details, arguing that volcanic sulfur, floating pumice, or thermal hot springs played a key role. Critics argue that hydrothermal vent fields are too hot and too acid for a promising soup of free-floating amino acids. A critic (who advocates ancient mud volcanoes instead) charges, “It’d be like trying to make life evolve from hot Coca-Cola.”

Stanley Miller of Miller-Urey experiment fame told Discover Magazine in 1992 that overall, “The vent hypothesis is a real loser. I don’t understand why we even have to discuss it.” One difficulty is that the oldest known fossils are stromatolites, clumps of bacteria from 3.5 billion years ago, which suggests that life began in shallow seas, not deep ones.

But what if element-rich comets struck a location deemed favorable for other reasons? … More.

See also:

The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (origin of life)

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8 Replies to “How could a “sophisticated cellular organism” emerge from eruptions, gushes, and crashes?

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    A friend of mine told me some years ago that based on DNA analysis all of the “extreme-ophiles” are descendants of ordinary bacteria, etc., that developed on the surface of the Earth and then migrated to extreme environments.

    So the argument is essentially backwards. The question is “Why would an organism WISH to thrive away from the surface of the Earth?” I mean, they can’t even get basic cable down there.

  2. 2
    Dionisio says:

    Question:

    How could a “sophisticated cellular organism” emerge from eruptions, gushes, and crashes?

    Answer: well, you see, perhaps, it’s possible, supposedly, maybe, it is thought that, it is believed that, and then, in a way, somehow,… but clearly the fact is that obviously that’s how it happened. There’s no other way. This is it. Anything else is unscientific and therefore totally unacceptable, because it’s a product of ignorance.

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    Consider the underlying import of such reasoning. It is as much as saying: ‘Scientifically it is correct to state that life cannot have begun by itself. But spontaneously arising life is the only possibility that we will consider. So it is necessary to bend the arguments to support the hypothesis that life arose spontaneously.’ Is anyone comfortable with such logic? Does not such reasoning call for a lot of ‘bending’ of the facts?

  4. 4
    johnp says:

    LUCA was not necessarily the “first life”. As we know LUCA could have evolved elsewhere in the universe from prebiotic soup, say on planet clatuu or maybe in that neighborhood, and then was flown in on an asteroid.

    So the premise of this OP is obviously faulty. You just don’t understand evolution.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    mahuna @1 as to:

    “I mean, they can’t even get basic cable down there.”

    Actually in my notes on terra-forming I have this:

    Electric Bugs: New Microbe Forms Living, Deep-Sea Power Cables – Oct. 24, 2012
    Excerpt: The world’s deep seafloors are dark and airless places, but vast swaths may pulse gently with energy conducted through a type of newly discovered bacteria that forms living electrical cables.
    The bacteria were first detected in 2010 by researchers perplexed at chemical fluctuations in sediments from the bottom of Aarhus Bay in Denmark. Almost instantaneously linking changing oxygen levels in water with reactions in mud nearly an inch below, the fluctuations occurred too fast to be explained by chemistry.
    Only an electrical signal made sense — but no known bacteria could transmit electricity across such comparatively vast distances. Were bacteria the size of humans, the signals would be making a journey 12 miles long.,,,
    Seen through an electron microscope, the Desulfobulbaceae — the researchers haven’t yet given them a genus or species name — appear in blue. They link end-to-end, forming filaments nearly an inch in length.,,,
    In just one teaspoon of mud, the researchers found a full half-mile of Desulfobulbaceae cable, and it’s not just a Danish phenomenon. Nielsen said other researchers have sent him samples from seafloors around the world, including Tokyo Bay. It’s possible that, at the microbial level, the deep seafloor is humming with current.
    With so much electricity being transferred, are other organisms tapping the lines? Might the Desulfobulbaceae be a power source for entire as-yet-unappreciated deep-sea microbial ecologies, which in turn shape some of the planet’s fundamental biogeochemical processes? That’s “an interesting possibility,” said Nielsen,,
    ,,the Desulfobulbaceae are definitely breaking down iron sulfides and carbonates in deeper sediment, while generating iron oxide and magnesium calcite at the surface, Nielsen said. The latter are important compounds for life in the oceans above, and ultimately on land. If the new Desulfobulbaceae are as widespread and populous as they seem, they could be an important component of life’s deep-time cycles.
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscie.....ewall=true

  6. 6
    Andre says:

    JohnP

    I’m puzzled, since we know with certainty that we have not found any life outside of our planet, how do you know life evolved from outside of our planet?

    I’m confused? Do you have ANY evidence to verify your claim that we have found ANY life outside of the Earth’s Habitable zone?

    Optimistically waiting for you to clarify;

    Regards

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    LUCA only exists in some people’s minds.

  8. 8
    johnp says:

    Andre,

    There is ample and abundant evidence for life on many other planets. For instance, have you ever seen the documentaries “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”? While these shows deal more with history than biology for the most part, we see a great many planets out in the cosmos that support life.

    Please forgive me. I thought my comment was sufficiently facetious and sarcastic. I will endevor to do better in the future.

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