"Circumstellar Disk" by NASA/R. Hurt, JPL-Caltech/C. Lisse, JHUAPL / Public Domain

Life May Have Evolved Before Earth Finished Forming

Apr 29, 2019

By Mike Wall

Life may have arisen in our solar system before Earth even finished forming.

Planetesimals, the rocky building blocks of planets, likely had all the ingredients necessary for life as we know it way back at the dawn of the solar system, said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University (ASU).

And clement conditions may have persisted inside some planetesimals for tens of millions of years — perhaps long enough for life to emerge, said Elkins-Tanton, the director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and the principal investigator of NASA’s upcoming mission to the odd metallic asteroid Psyche.

Some planetesimals survived into and beyond the planet-forming period, raising the possibility that one of these primitive bodies may have seeded Earth with life, she added.

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One comment on “Life May Have Evolved Before Earth Finished Forming”

  • Interesting. However, I find more plausible the theory proposed, in its popular version, by Nick Lane in “Life Ascending” and then in “The Vital Question”: life probably emerged in chemically-unstable, thermodynamically active rocky micro-environments at the bottom of the ocean, i.e. the alkaline vents.


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