Finally scientists have the final piece of the puzzle to confirm how the life on Earth may begun, and this is BIG!
The final piece of the puzzle has been found, and here’s what scientists found that confirms how life may started here on Earth.
It was a scientific theory that life on Earth begun when the meteors hit earth and brought everything needed to create the genetic code of all living things on Earth.
The space stones that hit Earth within the last century carry the five bases that store information in DNA and RNA, report scientists in Nature.
These 5 “nucleobases”—adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine, and uracil—combine with sugars and phosphates to create the genetic code of all life on Earth.
That’s why Neil deGrasse Tyson famously said: “We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out – and we have only just begun.”
Together the five “nucleobases,” combine with some sugars which have also been found in meteorites, and phosphates to make up the genetic code used to create all forms of life on Earth.
Until now, scientists scrubbing cosmic samples found three of the five needed to create the life on Earth. However, a recent analysis by a team of scientists led by Associate Professor Yasuhiro Oba of Hokkaido University, identified the final two nucleobases that have eluded scientists.
“We now have evidence that the complete set of nucleobases used in life today could have been available on Earth when life emerged,” states Danny Glavin, a co-author of the paper at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Nucleobases belong to classes of organic molecules called purines and pyrimidines, which have a wide variety. The mystery yet remains: why more types haven’t been discovered in meteorites so far?
“I wonder why purines and pyrimidines are exceptional in that they do not show structural diversity in carbonaceous meteorites unlike other classes of organic compounds such as amino acids and hydrocarbons,” quotes Oba, lead author of a paper about the research published in Nature Communications.
“Since purines and pyrimidines can be synthesized in extraterrestrial environments, as has been demonstrated by our own study, one would expect to find a wide diversity of these organic molecules in meteorites.”
The first that comes to mind is that the newly discovered pair, cytosine and thymine, have been evaded in previous analyses due to their delicate structure, which may have degraded when scientists extracted samples in the previous findings.
In the previous experiments, what some call “meteorite tea,” scientists placed grains of meteorite in a hot bath to extract molecules into the solution and then analyze the molecular makeup of the “tea.”
“We study these water extracts since they contain the good stuff, ancient organic molecules that could have been key building blocks for the origin of life on Earth,” said Glavin.
The team was skeptical to see the two delicate nucleobases, but a mix of cool water and extremely sensitive equipment allowed them to confirm their discovery.
“I was amazed that they had seen cytosine, which is very fragile,” said Jason Dworkin, another co-author at Goddard.
The finding doesn’t provide 100% accuracy as to whether life on Earth got an assist from space or came about exclusively in the prebiotic soup in the planet’s infancy (which is highly unlikely if you ask me!). But confirming the set of nucleobases in the sample that make up life today, gives scientists who are trying to understand the beginning of life a lot more resources to experiment in the petri dishes, so to speak.
“This is adding more and more pieces; meteorites have been found to have sugars and bases now,” Dworkin said. “It’s exciting to see progress in the making of the fundamental molecules of biology from space.”
Not only the discovery allowed insights to how life on earth may begun, it also provides more advanced techniques and technology to extract information from extraterrestrial stones in the future, especially from the samples of Bennu making their way to Earth in the next year via NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission.
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