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Is life on earth a one-time event?

  1. May 23, 2009 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    What level of confidence can be assigned to the statement that all life on earth has one point of origin - a foundation species? Also, is there any evidence that there may have been other genetic lines, other foundation species and their descendents, that did not survive.

    I am not asserting or implying anything, I am only asking.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2009 #2


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  4. May 26, 2009 #3
    It is, at its core, a probability argument. I suppose that it is possible to view the origin of life as chemical selection operating on different versions yet in the end, only one succeeded. It is worth noting that as far as we know, all life shares common polymers, Nucleic acids and protein catalysts. There are over 390 naturally occurring amino acids known, yet all living organisms consist of the same subset of 22 amino acids. There also seem to be some early indications that amino acids in this subset could be thermodynamically favored in prebiotic synthesis.

  5. Jun 23, 2009 #4
  6. Jun 23, 2009 #5


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    Not necessarily. There is current active research looking for non-DNA-based microbial life here on Earth, assumedly left over from Earth's formative years. The idea that we've never seen evidence of it is that it would have slipped right through the cracks of all our current tests - whether that means not detected or merely not differentiated.
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