Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Life's Raw Materials May Have Come From The Stars, Scientists Confirm

Date:
June 13, 2008
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Scientists have confirmed for the first time that an important component of early genetic material which has been found in meteorite fragments is extraterrestrial in origin. The finding suggests that parts of the raw materials to make the first molecules of DNA and RNA may have come from the stars.

Stardust from Murchison-meteorite. New finding suggests that parts of the raw materials to make the first molecules of DNA and RNA may have come from the stars.
Credit: Argonne National Laboratory, Department of Energy

Scientists have confirmed for the first time that an important component of early genetic material which has been found in meteorite fragments is extraterrestrial in origin, in a paper published on 15 June 2008.

Related Articles


The finding suggests that parts of the raw materials to make the first molecules of DNA and RNA may have come from the stars.

The scientists, from Europe and the USA, say that their research provides evidence that life’s raw materials came from sources beyond the Earth.

The materials they have found include the molecules uracil and xanthine, which are precursors to the molecules that make up DNA and RNA, and are known as nucleobases.

The team discovered the molecules in rock fragments of the Murchison meteorite, which crashed in Australia in 1969.

They tested the meteorite material to determine whether the molecules came from the solar system or were a result of contamination when the meteorite landed on Earth.

The analysis shows that the nucleobases contain a heavy form of carbon which could only have been formed in space. Materials formed on Earth consist of a lighter variety of carbon.

Lead author Dr Zita Martins, of the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says that the research may provide another piece of evidence explaining the evolution of early life. She says:

“We believe early life may have adopted nucleobases from meteoritic fragments for use in genetic coding which enabled them to pass on their successful features to subsequent generations.”

Between 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago large numbers of rocks similar to the Murchison meteorite rained down on Earth at the time when primitive life was forming. The heavy bombardment would have dropped large amounts of meteorite material to the surface on planets like Earth and Mars.

Co-author Professor Mark Sephton, also of Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, believes this research is an important step in understanding how early life might have evolved. He added:

“Because meteorites represent left over materials from the formation of the solar system, the key components for life -- including nucleobases -- could be widespread in the cosmos. As more and more of life’s raw materials are discovered in objects from space, the possibility of life springing forth wherever the right chemistry is present becomes more likely.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. MARTINS et al. Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2008; 270 (1-2): 130 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2008.03.026

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Life's Raw Materials May Have Come From The Stars, Scientists Confirm." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613092514.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2008, June 13). Life's Raw Materials May Have Come From The Stars, Scientists Confirm. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613092514.htm
Imperial College London. "Life's Raw Materials May Have Come From The Stars, Scientists Confirm." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613092514.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gerbils, Not Rats, Might Be To Blame For The Black Death

Gerbils, Not Rats, Might Be To Blame For The Black Death

Newsy (Feb. 24, 2015) The "black death" that killed tens of millions of people has been blamed on rats for years, but now researchers say they may have gotten a bad rap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Timbuktu Manuscripts Face an Uncertain Future

Timbuktu Manuscripts Face an Uncertain Future

AFP (Feb. 23, 2015) Two years ago a large number of manuscripts were taken from Timbuktu for safe keeping. Now the question is whether to return them. Duration: 02:50 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Did A Mummy End Up In A 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue?

How Did A Mummy End Up In A 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue?

Newsy (Feb. 23, 2015) A CT scan has revealed a mummified Chinese monk inside a Buddha statue. The remains date back about 1,000 years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare First Folio Arrives at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Rare First Folio Arrives at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Feb. 23, 2015) A rare First Folio discovered in a French library arrives at the Shakespeare&apos;s Globe Theatre in London, where the Bard&apos;s plays were first performed. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins