uggs london Life on Earth bubbled out of a volcano in Greenland 3
A ‘black smoker’ underwater geyser previously, scientists thought these vents were the source of life on Earth, but a new study suggests that undersea volcanoes offered the perfect recipe for life to begin
It is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, but scientists say that Greenland was the birthplace of life.
They believe they erupted 3.8 billion years ago, forcing certain elements up to the surface which were crucial in the formation of biomolecules the building blocks of life.
It was previously thought that the first living creatures evolved in geysers underwater volcanoes which spewed out hydrogen, methane and other gases which produced an environment favourable to life.
But scientists now argue that these were actually too acidic for life to form and have been searching for alternatives.
The team from the Laboratory of Geology in Lyon, France, looked at mineral deposits on some of the oldest rocks in the world and found the mineral serpentinite which is key to life had formed when sea water hit the Earths crust.
Analysis of green ‘serpentinite’ rocks from Isua showed that mud volcanoes underwater would have offered an environment that was warm, non acidic and full of carbonates the perfect mix to allow the birth of life
This produced ideal conditions for protein molecules to evolve into single cell organisms, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
These are the simplest forms of life which would, over millions of years, evolve into multi cell organisms,
and eventually into birds, mammals and humans.
Lead researcher Marie Laure Pons said: The mud volcanoes at Isua thus represent a particularly favourable setting for the emergence of primitive terrestrial life.
Underwater volcanoes this picture shows the signs of an eruption near the Canary islands provided a chemical soup perfect for the first life to emerge
The paper does not change the narrative of where humans came from evidence suggests they first evolved from Neanderthals in the cradle of Africa 200,000 years ago and gradually made their way across the world.
Reacting to the study, Dr Simon Underdown, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford Brookes University said: We know so little about the origins of life four billion years ago, and if this is right it means early life formed with very little water, which is interesting in terms of life that may be found on other planets.
But this may not have been the only site at which life formed, as there may have been several, some of which later died out.
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