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Evolution Created Life From Lifeless ‘Primordial Soup,’ Scientists Suggest

February 24, 2012

Just as species are believed to have evolved over time, the individual molecules that form the basis of life also likely developed in response to natural selection, scientists say.

The molecules swimming in early Earth’s primordial soup would have been continually destroyed by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, as well as heat and other processes on the planet.

But when certain special pairs of molecules combined to form a larger compound, they sometimes came out with protections that neither had alone.

“When molecules interact, they start taking on properties they don’t have as individuals, but do gain when they’re in a complex,” Robert Root-Bernstein, a physiologist at Michigan State University, said Sunday (Feb. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “This provides a means of natural selection.”

If life assembled from combinations of these already-stable building blocks, rather than a random combination of raw molecules from scratch, the process would have been much more efficient.

“The difference between trying absolutely everything and trying a small number of stable modules is huge,” Root-Bernstein said. “It makes something that’s virtually impossible into something that’s very likely.”

Read the full article here.

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