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.

  • First ancient syphilis genomes decoded
    on June 21, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    An international research team has recovered the first historic genomes from the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis. It was previously not thought possible to recover DNA of this bacterium from ancient samples. In the study, the researchers were able to distinguish genetically between the subspecies of the disease that cause syphilis and that cause yaws, which are not readily distinguishable in skeletal remains. […]

  • Strange sponge-like fossil creature from half a billion years ago
    on June 20, 2018 at 3:08 am

    A discovery of a new species of sponge-like fossil from the Cambrian Period sheds light on early animal evolution. […]

  • 22,000-year-old panda from cave in Southern China belongs to distinct, long-lost lineage
    on June 18, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Researchers who've analyzed ancient mitochondrial (mt)DNA isolated from a 22,000-year-old panda found in Cizhutuo Cave in the Guangxi Province of China -- a place where no pandas live today -- have revealed a new lineage of giant panda. The report shows that the ancient panda separated from present-day pandas 144,000 to 227,000 years ago, suggesting that it belonged to a distinct group not found today. […]

  • New technique provides accurate dating of ancient skeletons
    on June 18, 2018 at 12:44 am

    A new way of dating skeletons by using mutations in DNA associated with geography will avoid the difficulties and inaccuracies sometimes associated with existing dating methods. The technique will enable a better understanding of historical developments from the beginning of the Neolithic period, through the Bronze and Iron Ages. […]

  • For 100 million years, amber freezes a tableau of tick's worst day ever
    on June 13, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    This is the first time this kind of interaction between ticks and spiders has been documented in the fossil record. Even though ticks aren't a typical staple of spider diets, spiders can occasionally prey on ticks in modern ecosystems. […]

  • Scientists discover a new way to find mass extinctions
    on June 13, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    During the history of the Earth, there were many mass extinctions, when huge numbers of species died out. They are usually easy to identify because of the sudden extinctions, followed by a gap, and then the recovery of life. […]

  • Simple chemical process that may have led to the origin of life on Earth
    on June 13, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Research has shown that reactions of alpha-hydroxy acids, similar to the alpha-amino acids that make up modern proteins, form large polymers easily under conditions presumed prevalent on early Earth. These alpha-hydroxy acid polymers may have aided in the formation of living systems on early Earth. […]

  • Oldest bubonic plague genome decoded
    on June 8, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    An international team has analyzed two 3,800-year-old Y. pestis genomes that suggest a Bronze Age origin for bubonic plague. The study shows that this strain is the oldest sequenced to date that contains the virulence factors considered characteristic of the bubonic plague and is ancestral to the strain that caused the Black Death. […]

  • First tetrapods of Africa lived within the Devonian Antarctic Circle
    on June 7, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    The first African fossils of Devonian tetrapods (four-legged vertebrates) show these pioneers of land living within the Antarctic circle, 360 million years ago. […]

  • Two ancient populations that diverged later 'reconverged' in the Americas
    on May 31, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    A new genetic study of ancient individuals in the Americas and their contemporary descendants finds that two populations that diverged from one another 18,000 to 15,000 years ago remained apart for millennia before mixing again. This historic ;reconvergence; occurred before or during their expansion to the southern continent. […]

  • Scientists rethink co-evolution of marine life, oxygenated oceans
    on May 31, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Researchers have confirmed that rising oceanic and atmospheric oxygen levels co-evolved with marine life hundreds of millions of years ago. […]

  • Meet NOTCH2NL, the human-specific genes that may have given us our big brains
    on May 31, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    The genetic changes behind the expansion of human brains that played an important role in our ability as a species to think, problem-solve, and develop culture have been elusive. But in a pair of papers publishing May 31 in Cell, two teams of researchers identify a gene family, NOTCH2NL, that appears to play an important role in human-specific cortex development and may have been a driving force in the evolution of our large brains. […]

  • World’s oldest lizard fossil discovered
    on May 30, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Paleontologists have identified the world's oldest lizard, providing key insight into the evolution of modern lizards and snakes. […]

  • Italy's oldest olive oil discovered in peculiar pot
    on May 30, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Chemical analysis conducted on ancient pottery discovered from the Early Bronze Age proves Italians started using olive oil 700 years sooner than what's previously been recorded. […]

  • 400-million-year-old evolutionary arms race helps researchers understand HIV
    on May 24, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Researchers were interested in the origin of a gene that encodes for protein, HERC5, shown to potently inhibit HIV. Scientists show that the gene first emerged in fish over 400 million years ago and has been involved in an evolutionary arms race with viruses ever since. […]

  • In the beginning was the phase separation
    on May 23, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    The question of the origin of life remains one of the oldest unanswered scientific questions. A team has now shown for the first time that phase separation is an extremely efficient way of controlling the selection of chemical building blocks and providing advantages to certain molecules. […]

  • Land rising above the sea 2.4 billion years ago changed planet Earth
    on May 23, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Chemical signatures in shale, the Earth's most common sedimentary rock, point to a rapid rise of land above the ocean 2.4 billion years ago that possibly triggered dramatic changes in climate and life. […]

  • Major fossil study sheds new light on emergence of early animal life 540 million years ago
    on May 21, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    All the major groups of animals appear in the fossil record for the first time around 540-500 million years ago -- an event known as the Cambrian Explosion -- but new research suggests that for most animals this 'explosion' was in fact a more gradual process. […]

  • Scientists analyze first ancient human DNA from Southeast Asia
    on May 17, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Researchers have completed the first whole-genome analysis of ancient human DNA from Southeast Asia Study identifies at least three major waves of human migration into the region over the last 50,000 years, each shaping the genetics of Southeast Asia. […]

  • Feeding habits of ancient elephants uncovered from grass fragments stuck in their teeth
    on May 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    A new study examined the feeding habits of ancient elephant relatives that inhabited Central Asia some 17 million years ago. […]

  • Worm-eating mice reveal how evolution works on islands
    on May 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    When animals are isolated on islands, they can evolve into strange new species found nowhere else on Earth. But what's the cut-off -- how small can an island be and still support the evolution of multiple new species from a single common ancestor? A family of worm-eating mice from a tiny island in the Philippines have set a new lower limit for island size and evolution. […]

  • Scientists crack how primordial life on Earth might have replicated itself
    on May 15, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Scientists have created a new type of genetic replication system which demonstrates how the first life on Earth -- in the form of RNA -- could have replicated itself. The scientists say the new RNA utilizes a system of genetic replication unlike any known to naturally occur on Earth today. […]

  • American tropics, Amazon origins
    on May 14, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    A new study is suggesting many of the plants and animals that call Latin America home may actually have their roots in the Amazon. Researchers found that a dynamic process of colonization and speciation led to the formation of the American tropics, which is today the most species-rich region on the planet. […]

  • Jurassic fossil tail tells of missing link in crocodile family tree
    on May 11, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    A 180-million-year-old fossil has shed light on how some ancient crocodiles evolved into dolphin-like animals. […]

  • A European origin for leprosy?
    on May 10, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    New research by an international team has revealed that there was much more diversity in the leprosy strains circulating in Medieval Europe than previously thought. This finding, based on the sequencing of 10 new ancient genomes from the leprosy-causing bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, complicates prior assumptions about the origin and spread of the disease, and also includes the oldest M. leprae genome sequenced to date, from about 400 AD in the United Kingdom. […]

  • Stone Age hepatitis B virus decoded
    on May 10, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Scientists have successfully reconstructed genomes from Stone Age and Medieval European strains of the hepatitis B virus. This unprecedented recovery of ancient virus DNA indicates that hepatitis B was circulating in Europe at least 7,000 years ago. […]

  • Tiny fossils unlock clues to Earth's climate half a billion years ago
    on May 9, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    Scientists have quantified the temperature of Earth's oceans over half a billion years ago by combining fossil data and climate models. […]

  • Ediacara Biota flourished in bacterially rich marine habitats
    on May 4, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Researchers have used biomarkers in ancient rocks to learn more about the environmental conditions and food sources that sustained the Ediacara Biota. […]

  • DNA adds twist to ancient story of a Native American group
    on April 30, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    New findings draw from the first population-level nuclear DNA analysis of a Native American group from ancient to modern times. […]

  • Ancient quids reveal clues about genetic ancestry of early Great Basin inhabitants
    on April 30, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    New research showcases modern research methods that have revealed clues about the genetic ancestry of Native Americans who inhabited the Desert Southwest almost 1,000 years ago. […]