SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY
Did Life's First Cells Evolve in Geothermal Pools?
from Scientific American
Earth started as a violent place, its surface churned by continuous volcanic eruptions and
cloaked in an atmosphere that would have been poisonous to today's life-forms. Furthermore, the
thin primeval atmosphere may have provided only scant protection from the young sun's harsh
ultraviolet glare. Given these inhospitable conditions, scientists have long wondered: How did
the first cells come to be nearly four billion years ago?
Conventional scientific wisdom holds that life arose in the sea. But a new study suggests that
the first cells--or at least the ones that left descendants still extant--got their start in
geothermal pools, like those seen at Yellowstone National Park and other geologic hot spots
The argument rests on one indisputable observation--enzymes common to all archaea and bacteria
are built from potassium, phosphorus or zinc, not sodium.