Study Suggests Earth Life Began on Mars

Building blocks of life may have arrived via meteorite: scientist

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 29, 2013 4:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – Were our earliest ancestors Martians? A new study suggests that all life on Earth may have originated on the Red Planet, the BBC reports. That's because Mars would have had plenty of the minerals that are best at forging RNA, which is one of the key components of life and is believed to have predated DNA. On Earth, those minerals would have dissolved into the ocean (water is "corrosive" to RNA, adds Space.com). But life could have formed on Mars, then headed here on meteorites, suggests US scientist Steven Benner; he's not the first to propose such a theory, the BBC notes.

The investigation centers on how atoms were arranged to form RNA, DNA, and proteins. Benner says minerals containing the elements boron and an oxidized form of molybdenum were central to the process—but at the time, Earth was probably incapable of supporting enough of such minerals. He tells Space.com that analysis of a Martian meteorite revealed the presence of boron on Mars, and "we now believe that the oxidized form of molybdenum was there, too." As such, "the evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," says Benner. "It’s lucky that we ended up here, nevertheless—as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life." Click for more on how nobody really wants to head back there.

This image provided by NASA shows a panoramic view from NASA's Mars Exploration rover Opportunity of Solander Point.
This image provided by NASA shows a panoramic view from NASA's Mars Exploration rover Opportunity of "Solander Point."   (AP Photo/NASA)
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