Is there life on Mars? How did life on Earth begin? A new study shows that the two questions may have the same answer. Researchers argue that life may have actually first evolved on the red planet and then hurled through space to the blue marble.
According to The Guardian, geochemist Steven Brenner believes there is strong evidence that the beginnings of organic life came to Earth from Mars via meteorite or even volcanic eruptions. Sound far fetched? Brenner points to evidence that has been growing about conditions on ancient Mars as well as early evolution on Earth.
There is increasing evidence that early life on Earth, organic life, relied heavily on boron and oxidized molybdenum. Molybdenum is a mineral thought to be a key element in the early stages of life. However, it is only when molybdenum is oxidized — exposed to oxygen — that it works as a catalyst for evolution. The problem with this theory, however, has been that at the time basic forms of life sprang up on Earth there was very little oxygen.
But Mars had oxygen at this time. More than that, a recent study of a Martian meteorite shows that the red planet has both boron and molybdenum, according to Phys.Org. This, Professor Brenner says, solves the “tar paradox,” which has shown that organic molecules exposed to energy does not become life but instead becomes a tar-like goo. Concentrated boron and oxidized molybdenum are key to this process, he says.
If life began on Mars, it would also answer another paradox about Earth life. Because life began when the earth was covered in mostly water, boron would not have been concentrated. Water also destroys RNA, a molecule believed to be the first stage of early life. Mars had water at this time too, but not nearly as much as Earth at the time. With this in mind, it is not hard to believe that Mars had concentrated boron and oxidized molybdenum present when life evolved, while Earth did not.
Professor Brenner says that it was incredibly fortunate that these early life molecules made their way to Earth. Had it just remained on the red planet, life on Mars would be as it is today and Earth would have remained lifeless.
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