By now most of you are probably already familiar with the concept of “Panspermia”, or the notion that life is prevalent throughout the entire universe and planetoids (like Earth) tend to become “seeded” by asteroids, meteorites and comets which contain microorganisms. Of course these wouldn’t be your run of the mill microorganisms we’re talking about here, but extremophiles, which as their name suggests, can withstand conditions which would kill most other forms of life.
You might be wondering what this has to do with this story at this point. Well, during a recent scientific symposium held in Florence, Italy (the the Goldschmidt Meeting), Professor Steven Benner proposed a theory that Mars might have harbored the life which originally found its way to Earth via an asteroid.
Prof. Benner’s theorem expands upon this oft-touted concept by adding some additional thoughts to the puzzle concerning how Earth’s atmosphere developed and life began. According to Benner’s postulation, boron minerals could have helped carbohydrate rings to form from pre-biotic chemicals. Similarly, it would then follow logic that molybdenum might take that intermediate molecule and subsequently rearrange it to form ribose (which might explain where RNA came from).
“It’s only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidised that it is able to influence how early life formed” stated Benner. “This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did. It’s yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet. The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock.”
Benner, along with many other scientists, hope that this new theory will eventually lead to the breakthroughs which will help to prove exactly where and how RNA developed. As it is said, there are essentially 3 critical components where life is concerned: RNA, DNA and proteins. As the pre-biotic soup theory cannot be accurately employed to explain the complete development of complex RNA, the notion of outside elements being introduced from world afar would help to fill in the gaps, so to speak.