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.

  • Two-billion-year-old salt rock reveals rise of oxygen in ancient atmosphere
    on March 22, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    Salts left over from ancient seawater reveal new information about the oxygenation of the Earth's atmosphere more than 2 billion years ago. […]

  • Genomes of five late Neandertals provide insights into Neandertal population history
    on March 21, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Researchers have sequenced the genomes of five Neandertals that lived between 39,000 and 47,000 years ago. These late Neandertals are all more closely related to the Neandertals that contributed DNA to modern human ancestors than an older Neandertal from the Altai Mountains that was previously sequenced. Their genomes also provide evidence for a turnover in the Neandertal population towards the end of Neandertal history. […]

  • The curse of zombie fossils
    on March 21, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    New research has revealed how the history of life can be distorted by the ways animals decompose and lose body parts as they decay -- and the ways in which decayed bodies ultimately become fossilized. […]

  • 'New life form' answers question about evolution of cells
    on March 19, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Bacteria and Archaea must have evolved from the putative Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). One hypothesis is that this happened because the cell membrane in LUCA was an unstable mixture of lipids. Now, scientists have created such a life form with a mixed membrane and discovered it is in fact stable, refuting this hypothesis. […]

  • Genetic analysis uncovers the evolutionary origin of vertebrate limbs
    on March 19, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Fish, mice and likely all modern-day vertebrates share genetic elements first used to develop the unpaired dorsal fin in ancient fish. They later copied these elements to produce paired appendages, like pelvic and pectoral fins, arms and legs. […]

  • The absence of ants: Entomologist confirms first Saharan farming 10,000 years ago
    on March 16, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    By analysing a prehistoric site in the Libyan desert, a team of researchers has been able to establish that people in Saharan Africa were cultivating and storing wild cereals 10,000 years ago. In addition to revelations about early agricultural practices, there could be a lesson for the future, if global warming leads to a necessity for alternative crops. […]

  • Scientists discover genomic ancestry of Stone Age North Africans from Morocco
    on March 15, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    An international team of researchers have sequenced DNA from individuals from Morocco dating to approximately 15,000 years ago. This is the oldest nuclear DNA from Africa ever successfully analyzed. The study shows that the individuals, dating to the Late Stone Age, had a genetic heritage that was in part similar to ancient Levantine Natufians and an uncharacterized sub-Saharan African lineage to which modern West Africans are genetically closest. […]

  • Scientists discover evidence of early human innovation, pushing back evolutionary timeline
    on March 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    Scientists discovered that early humans in East Africa had -- by about 320,000 years ago -- begun trading with distant groups, using color pigments and manufacturing more sophisticated tools than those of the Early Stone Age, tens of thousands of years earlier than previous evidence has shown in eastern Africa. As earthquakes remodeled the landscape and climate fluctuated between wet and dry conditions, technological and social innovation would have helped early humans survive unpredictable conditions. […]

  • Modern humans interbred with Denisovans twice in history
    on March 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    Modern humans co-existed and interbred not only with Neanderthals, but also with another species of archaic humans, the mysterious Denisovans. Research now describes how, while developing a new genome-analysis method for comparing whole genomes between modern human and Denisovan populations, researchers unexpectedly discovered two distinct episodes of Denisovan genetic intermixing, or admixing, between the two. This suggests a more diverse genetic history than previously thought between the Denisovans and modern humans. […]

  • Genetic timeline of early Pacific settlers
    on March 9, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Researchers have helped put together the most comprehensive study ever conducted into the origins of people in Vanuatu -- regarded as a geographic gateway from Asia to the Remote Pacific. […]

  • The degradation status of modern polymeric museum artifacts can be classified by their smell
    on March 6, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Breath analysis in disease diagnostics is a promising research field, and the advances in instrumentation allows the accurate detection of metabolites. But not only the health status of patients, but also the preservation status of museum artifacts could be monitored. Heritage science researchers have investigated emissions of volatile organic compounds from plastics-based art objects and provided a first calibration scheme for polymer degradation in museum environment. […]

  • Photosynthesis originated a billion years earlier than we thought, study shows
    on March 6, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    The earliest oxygen-producing microbes may not have been cyanobacteria. Ancient microbes may have been producing oxygen through photosynthesis a billion years earlier than we thought, which means oxygen was available for living organisms very close to the origin of life on earth. Researchers studied the molecular machines responsible for photosynthesis and found the process may have evolved as long as 3.6 billion years ago. […]

  • Chemical sleuthing unravels possible path to forming life's building blocks in space
    on March 5, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Scientists have used experiments to retrace the chemical steps leading to the creation of complex hydrocarbons in space. They showed pathways to forming 2-D carbon-based nanostructures in a mix of heated gases. […]

  • Mammals share mechanisms controlling the heart with a 400 million-year-old fish
    on March 5, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Primitive air-breathing fish, whose direct ancestors first appeared around 400 million years ago, show mechanisms controlling the heart which were previously considered to be found only in mammals -- according to a new study. […]

  • 127-million-year-old baby bird fossil sheds light on avian evolution
    on March 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    The tiny fossil of a prehistoric baby bird is helping scientists understand how early avians came into the world in the Age of Dinosaurs. The fossil, which dates back to the Mesozoic Era (250-65 million years ago), is a chick from a group of prehistoric birds called, Enantiornithes. Made up of a nearly complete skeleton, the specimen is amongst the smallest known Mesozoic avian fossils ever discovered. […]

  • Tiny bubbles of oxygen got trapped 1.6 billion years ago
    on March 2, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Take a good look at these photos: They show you 1.6 billion years old fossilized oxygen bubbles, created by tiny microbes in what was once a shallow sea somewhere on young Earth. […]

  • Nicotine extracted from ancient dental plaque for the first time
    on February 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    A team of scientists has shown for the first time that nicotine residue can be extracted from dental plaque on the teeth of ancient tobacco users. Their research provides a new method for determining who was consuming tobacco in the ancient world and could help trace the use of tobacco and other intoxicating plants further back into prehistory. […]

  • Ancient DNA reveals genetic replacement despite language continuity in the South Pacific
    on February 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    New genetic research reveals the complex demographic history of Vanuatu, explaining how Austronesian languages were retained throughout its history despite near-total replacement of early Austronesian-Lapita with Papuan ancestry. […]

  • Complete genomes of extinct and living elephants sequenced
    on February 26, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Researchers have produced one of the most comprehensive evolutionary pictures to date by looking at one of the world's most iconic animal families - namely elephants, and their relatives mammoths and mastodons-spanning millions of years. […]

  • Plants evolve away from obsolete defenses when attacked by immune herbivores, study shows
    on February 26, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    A new study shows that plants can evolve out of their obsolete defense mechanisms when facing an immune enemy, an illustration of the 'defense de-escalation' evolution theory. […]

  • New light shed on prehistoric human migration in Europe
    on February 21, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    The first farmers of northern and western Europe passed through southeastern Europe with limited hunter-gatherer genetic admixture, which occurs when two or more previously isolated populations begin interbreeding. However, some groups that remained mixed extensively -- without the male-biased, hunter-gatherer admixture that prevailed later in the North and West. […]

  • Ancient DNA tells tales of humans' migrant history
    on February 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Fueled by advances in analyzing DNA from the bones of ancient humans, scientists have dramatically expanded the number of samples studied -- revealing vast and surprising migrations and genetic mixing of populations in our prehistoric past. […]

  • Ancient-DNA researchers surpass the 1,000-genome milestone
    on February 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    In the last eight years, the field of ancient DNA research has expanded from just one ancient human genome to more than 1,300. The latest 625 of those genomes debut Feb. 21 in Nature, including the largest study of ancient DNA to date. […]

  • Brain size of human ancestors evolved gradually over 3 million years
    on February 21, 2018 at 2:20 am

    Modern humans have brains that are more than three times larger than our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos. Scientists don't agree on when and how this dramatic increase took place, but new analysis of 94 hominin fossils shows that average brain size increased gradually and consistently over the past three million years. […]

  • Plants colonized Earth 100 million years earlier than previously thought
    on February 19, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    A new study on the timescale of plant evolution has concluded that the first plants to colonize the Earth originated around 500 million years ago -- 100 million years earlier than previously thought. […]

  • Traces of indigenous 'Taíno' in present-day Caribbean populations
    on February 19, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    A thousand-year-old tooth has provided the first clear genetic evidence that the Taíno -- the indigenous people whom Columbus first encountered on arriving in the New World -- still have living descendants today, despite erroneous claims in some historical narratives that these people are extinct. The findings are likely to have particular resonance for people in the Caribbean and the US who claim Taíno ancestry, but have until now been unable to prove definitively that such a thing is possible. […]

  • Asteroid 'time capsules' may help explain how life started on Earth
    on February 17, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    In popular culture, asteroids play the role of apocalyptic threat, get blamed for wiping out the dinosaurs -- and offer an extraterrestrial source for mineral mining. But for one researcher, asteroids play an entirely different role: that of time capsules showing what molecules originally existed in our solar system. Having that information gives scientists the starting point they need to reconstruct the complex pathway that got life started on Earth. […]

  • New insights into human evolution
    on February 13, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    The evolution of human biology should be considered part and parcel with the evolution of humanity itself, proposes an assistant professor of biological sciences. She explores an interdisciplinary approach to human evolution. […]

  • 'Middle Earth' preserved in giant bird dung
    on February 12, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    While the giant birds that once dominated New Zealand are all extinct, a study of their preserved dung (coprolites) has revealed many aspects of their ancient ecosystem, with important insights for ongoing conservation efforts. […]

  • Researchers raise a 170-million-year question over mysterious moss gene
    on February 12, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    A surprise discovery provides insight into how cells build their external walls and raises questions about a one-of-a-kind, fused gene. […]