Life On Earth, With A Martian Twist?

Mars, from The Hubble Space Telescope. Source: Wikipedia.UFO conspiracies and early sci-fi filmmakers may have been right all along, as we might all come from Mars, after all. New research suggests that a basic element needed to start up life, may have come from Mars.

Dr. Steven Benner, a geochemist at the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Gainesville, Florida, USA, showed scientists at an annual meeting in Italy that an oxidized form of the element molybdenum may have been essential for the early formation of life. Moreover, at the time life first appeared on Earth, oxidized molybdenum was available in just one place: Mars, not Earth. Dr. Benner explained that three billion years ago, when life first appeared on our planet, Earth was covered with water and did not have much oxygen. So, oxidized forms of molybdenum had to come from somewhere else, and the most likely source is Mars, via a meterorite.

"The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," Dr. Benner said. "It's lucky that we ended up here, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life."

Dr. Benner's presentation helps resolve two paradoxes that have flummoxed geoscientists trying to determine how life arose on Earth. First, the "tar paradox," which comes from the fact that organic molecules simply turn into asphalts and tar when left to their own devices, rather than making more complex, life-essential, compounds. But, elements like molybdenum and boron, help prevent these molecules from turning into tar, thus enabling organic molecules to become a breeding ground for evolution. Then, we have the "water paradox," which points to the fact that molecules like RNA, DNA and proteins are actually corroded by water. So, how could they not only exist together, but literally thrive? On today's Earth, in fact, boron and even molybdenum are found in very dry places. Dr. Benner thinks that Mars may have provided a way to deliver oxygen and keep RNA, DNA and proteins together on a very wet planet.

But one questions still remains, could there still be life on Mars? The elements are all still there, Dr. Benner says.


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