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7 Theories About The Origins Of Life On Earth You Haven’t Heard Of

Life on the Earth has existed for billions of years. The planet landed in the “goldilocks” zone of our solar system, making it the perfect place to host living organisms through their evolution. While we may know how long life has existed on the planet, we are still not sure how it started.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s go with how science explains the origins of life. Did you know that there is more than to life on our planet than simple evolution? How did it start? Where did we all come from? Here are some of the craziest theories about the origins of life:

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1. Electricity

The first time we heard of life created with electricity was in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Perhaps life didn’t start the same way as the doctor’s monster, but this theory might actually explain why the monster came to life.

Science has found that as lightning travels through the sky, it can produce simple sugars and amino acids using the elements in the atmosphere. This supports the theory that life may have started in the stormy skies above the primordial Earth.

2. Panspermia

This theory is more in the realm of sci-fi than literary horror. It proposes that our origins do not at all begin on the surface of planet Earth. Debris from outer space (meteorites, asteroids) dotted the surface of our planet during its infancy.

Much of the extraterrestrial debris found on Earth can be traced back to the red planet Mars. Scientists theorize that it is entirely possible microbes from Mars hitched a ride and life was kick-started when that rock struck our planet early on.

That would technically make us aliens, wouldn’t it?

3. RNA

This one is a little complicated, so we’ll first start with the dictionary definition: Ribonucleic Acid – a nucleic acid present in all living cells. Its principal role is to act as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins.”
RNA behaves much like DNA with its ability to store transmit and duplicate genetic information.

This theory, first proposed independently by Carl Woese, Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel in the 1960s, was reinforced by the discovery of the Tetrahymena ribozymes. Ribozymes were discovered to be a special protein state that RNA entered when necessary.

The theory states that life began with RNA and the accompanied use of ribozymes and DNA was integrated much later on.

4. Simple Metabolism and Reactions

This suggests that a pool sometimes referred to as the ‘primordial ooze’ simply had many chemical reactions over time. Over the course of a few million years, the molecules in the pool became more complex. Eventually, the building blocks for life came to exist.

While this theory is extremely simple and appears to lack the ‘creativity’ of others, it’s difficult to deny this as a possible origin.

With the temperatures that existed at the dawn of time, was it possible for pools of any form of liquid to exist on the surface of the Earth?

5. Clay Breeding Ground

As far as science has taught us, life began with some sort of matter that would be considered ‘organic.’ But this theory suggests we may have gotten our start in the clay ground.

First proposed by chemist Graham Cairns-Smith in 1966, the theory suggests life began with small crystals embedded throughout clay. These small crystals, if placed with something of a similar chemical make-up, it would grow.

According to the theory, “each crystal can have its own peculiarities, which it can pass on to its daughter crystals – … sometimes, when a crystal breaks apart, new quirks can be introduced, for instance, because of the stress of breaking. This is similar to the process of genetic mutation in living organisms.”

6. Deep-sea Vents

Deep-sea Vents are thermal vents created by the movement of magma in the rocky layer under the ocean water. Numerous species have been discovered around these vents, completely lacking any sun at their depth.

The best way to support this theory would be to find life near thermal vents on other planets or moons like Europa, a moon orbiting Jupiter.

7. Radioactive Beach Hypothesis

This one is a little weirder than the others. Billions of years ago, the moon was much closer to Earth. It was so close, according to the RBH that uranium stood concentrated on the early ocean’s beaches.

The Radioactive Beach Hypothesis suggests that the radiation was enough to generate organic molecules that became the catalyst for life to begin.

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