Origin of Life

Origin of Life News -- ScienceDaily Research into the origin of life. Learn how certain small molecule interactions may have been responsible for the life itself. You will find scientific theories and findings here.

  • Ancient DNA results end 4,000-year-old Egyptian mummy mystery
    on January 17, 2018 at 3:25 am

    Using 'next generation' DNA sequencing scientists have found that the famous 'Two Brothers' mummies of the Manchester Museum have different fathers so are, in fact, half-brothers. The Two Brothers are the Museum's oldest mummies and amongst the best-known human remains in its Egyptology collection. They are the mummies of two elite men -- Khnum-nakht and Nakht-ankh -- dating to around 1800 BC. […]

  • The Montmaurin-La Niche mandible reveals the complexity of the Neanderthals’ origin
    on January 16, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    A team of scientists has examined the Middle Pleistocene Montmaurin-La Niche mandible, which reveals the complexity of the origin of the Neanderthals. […]

  • Possible cause of early colonial-era Mexican epidemic identified
    on January 15, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Researchers have used new methods in ancient DNA research to identify Salmonella enterica Paratyphi C, a pathogen that causes enteric fever, in the skeletons of victims of the 1545-1550 cocoliztli epidemic in Mexico, identifying a possible cause of this devastating colonial epidemic. […]

  • Ingredients for life revealed in meteorites that fell to Earth
    on January 10, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    A detailed study of blue salt crystals found in two meteorites that crashed to Earth -- which included X-ray experiments found that they contain both liquid water and a mix of complex organic compounds including hydrocarbons and amino acids. […]

  • In 'pond scum,' scientists find answers to one of evolution's which-came-first cases
    on January 10, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    A team of scientists report on new evidence that primitive moths and butterflies existed during the Jurassic period, approximately 50 million years earlier than the first flowering plants, shedding new light on one of the most confounding cases of co-evolution. […]

  • Dramatic decline in genetic diversity of Northwest salmon
    on January 10, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Columbia River Chinook salmon have lost as much as two-thirds of their genetic diversity, researchers have found. The researchers reached this conclusion after extracting DNA from scores of bone samples -- some harvested as many as 7,000 years ago -- and comparing them to the DNA of Chinook currently swimming in the Snake and Columbia rivers. The work is 'the first direct measure of reduced genetic diversity for Chinook salmon from the ancient to the contemporary period.' […]

  • Ancient Phoenician DNA from Sardinia, Lebanon reflects settlement, integration, mobility
    on January 10, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Ancient DNA from the Phoenician remains found in Sardinia and Lebanon could provide insight into the extent of integration with settled communities and human movement during this time period, according to a new study. The researchers looked at mitochondrial genomes, which are maternally inherited, in a search for markers of Phoenician ancestry. […]

  • Chemists discover plausible recipe for early life on Earth
    on January 8, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Chemists find key chemical reactions that support life today could have been carried out with ingredients likely present on the planet four billion years ago. […]

  • Unusual gene evolution in bacteria
    on January 6, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Researchers have made another discovery at the cellular level to help understand the basic processes of all life on our planet -- this time within the unusual bacteria that has lived inside cicada insects since dinosaurs roamed Earth. […]

  • DNA analysis of ancient mummy, thought to have smallpox, points to Hepatitis B instead
    on January 4, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    A team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of an ancient strain of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), shedding new light on a pervasive, complex and deadly pathogen that today kills nearly one million people every year. While little is known about its evolutionary history and origin, the findings confirm the idea that HBV has existed in humans for centuries. […]

  • Evidence of previously unknown population of ancient Native Americans, research reveals
    on January 3, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Genetic analysis of ancient DNA from a 6-week-old infant found at an Interior Alaska archaeological site has revealed a previously unknown population of ancient people in North America. The findings represent a major shift in scientists' theories about how humans populated North America. The researchers have named the new group 'Ancient Beringians.' […]

  • Origins of photosynthesis in plants dated to 1.25 billion years ago
    on December 20, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    The world's oldest algae fossils are a billion years old, according to a new analysis by earth scientists. Based on this finding, the researchers also estimate that the basis for photosynthesis in today's plants was set in place 1.25 billion years ago. […]

  • Treasure trove of highly detailed fossils uncovered
    on December 19, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Researchers have uncovered a hidden diversity of microscopic animal fossils from over half a billion years ago lurking in rocks from the northern tip of Greenland. […]

  • Ancient fossil microorganisms indicate that life in the universe is common
    on December 18, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    A new analysis of the oldest known fossil microorganisms provides strong evidence to support an increasingly widespread understanding that life in the universe is common. […]

  • Viruses can transfer genes across the superkingdoms of life
    on December 18, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    A new finds that viruses can transfer genes to organisms that they aren't known to infect, suggesting they can influence and interact with a much wider range of organisms than previously thought. The researchers also found that viruses and cellular organisms share a large group of genes that help cells to function, suggesting that viruses may have an ancient cell-like origin. […]

  • Mysterious new seafloor species sheds light on early animal evolution
    on December 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Researchers have described a new species of the enigmatic marine worm Xenoturbella, named Xenoturbella japonica. Two specimens of this new species were dredged from the seafloor of the western Pacific. These primitive worms, lacking a centralized nervous system, kidneys, and anus, are important for understanding the early evolution of the Bilateria. MicroCT scanning revealed previously unknown structures, and molecular genomic analysis suggested that features of this species may be ancestral to Xenoturbella. This newly identified species is promising for further research on early bilaterian evolution. […]

  • Primitive fossil bear with a sweet tooth identified from Canada's High Arctic
    on December 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Researchers have identified remains of a 3.5-million-year-old bear from a fossil-rich site in Canada's High Arctic. Their study shows not only that the animal is a close relative of the ancestor of modern bears -- tracing its ancestry to extinct bears of similar age from East Asia -- but that it also had a sweet tooth, as determined by cavities in the teeth. […]

  • Ancient genetic mutation helps explain origin of some human organs
    on December 14, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    A genetic mutation that occurred over 700 million years ago may have contributed to the development of certain organs in human beings and other vertebrates. This change, a random error in the evolutionary process, facilitated the connection of the gene networks involved in animal embryogenesis. […]

  • Dinosaur parasites trapped in 100-million-year-old amber tell blood-sucking story
    on December 13, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Fossilized ticks discovered trapped and preserved in amber show that these parasites sucked the blood of feathered dinosaurs almost 100 million years ago. […]

  • Fossil orphans reunited with their parents after half a billion years
    on December 13, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Everyone wants to be with their family over the holidays, but spare a thought for a group of orphan fossils that have been separated from their parents since the dawn of animal evolution, over half a billion years ago. […]

  • Recently discovered fossil shows transition of a reptile from life on land to life in the sea
    on December 6, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Using modern research tools on a 155-million-year-old reptile fossil, scientists report they have filled in some important clues to the evolution of animals that once roamed land and transitioned to life in the water. […]

  • Meteorite analysis shows reduced salt is key in Earth's new recipe
    on December 5, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Scientists have found the halogen levels in the meteorites that formed the Earth billions of years ago are much lower than previously thought. […]

  • Worm genomes reveal a link between ourselves and our distant relatives
    on December 4, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Researchers have decoded two worm genomes and found that they have several genetic similarities with the vertebrates. […]

  • Genes identified that distinguish mammals from other animals
    on December 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    What distinguishes Homo sapiens from other living beings? And the group of mammals? What makes them different? Researchers analysed the already-sequenced genomes of 68 mammals and identified 6,000 families of genes that are only found in these animals. These are genes with no homologues outside mammals, in other words, they are not present in other hairless species. In humans, it is estimated that they represent 2.5% of the genes that code for proteins. […]

  • Traces of life on nearest exoplanets may be hidden in equatorial trap
    on November 29, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    New simulations show that the search for life on other planets may well be more difficult than previously assumed. The study indicates that unusual air flow patterns could hide atmospheric components from telescopic observations, with direct consequences for formulating the optimal strategy for searching for (oxygen-producing) life such as bacteria or plants on exoplanets. […]

  • A horse is a horse, of course, of course -- except when it isn't
    on November 28, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Scientists have discovered a previously unrecognized genus of extinct horses that roamed North America during the last ice age. The new findings are based on an analysis of ancient DNA from fossils of the enigmatic 'New World stilt-legged horse' excavated from sites such as Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming, Gypsum Cave in Nevada, and the Klondike goldfields of Canada's Yukon Territory. […]

  • Less life: Limited phosphorus recycling suppressed early Earth's biosphere
    on November 27, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    The amount of biomass -- life -- in Earth's ancient oceans may have been limited due to low recycling of the key nutrient phosphorus, according to new research. […]

  • Growing teeth and a backbone: Studies trace early origins of skeletal tissues
    on November 22, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Two new studies on the evolutionary origin of teeth and of vertebra further illuminate the human connection to marine organisms that goes back millions of years. Both studies were conducted in the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea). […]

  • Ancient fish scales and vertebrate teeth share an embryonic origin
    on November 20, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Latest findings support the theory that teeth in the animal kingdom evolved from the jagged scales of ancient fish, the remnants of which can be seen today embedded in the skin of sharks and skate. […]

  • Rise in oxygen levels links to ancient explosion of life, researchers find
    on November 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Scientists have found that oxygen levels appear to increase by roughly 80 percent at about the same time as a three-fold increase in biodiversity during the Ordovician Period, between 445 and 485 million years ago. […]