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Browse the full list. How did life begin? There can hardly be a bigger question.
For much of human history, almost everyone believed some version of "the gods did it". Any other explanation was inconceivable. That is no longer true. Over the last century, a few scientists have tried to figure out how the first life might have sprung up.
They have even tried to recreate this Genesis moment in their labs: So far nobody has managed it, but we have come a long way. Today, many of the scientists studying the origin of life are confident that they are on the right track — and they have the experiments to back up their confidence. This is the story of our quest to discover our ultimate origin.
It is a story of obsession, struggle and brilliant creativity, which encompasses some of the greatest discoveries of modern science. Some of the scientists involved have been bedevilled as monsters, while others had to do their work under the heel of brutal totalitarian governments.
This is the story of the birth of life on Earth. View image of Dinosaurs actually lived quite recently Credit: The dinosaurs are perhaps the most famous extinct creatures, and they had their beginnings million years ago. But life dates back much further.
The oldest known fossils are around 3. But the fossil record may stretch back still further. For instance, in August researchers found what appear to be fossilised microbes dating back 3. View image of These wavey patterns could be 3. Nutman et al, Nature The Earth itself is not much older, having formed 4.
If we assume that life formed on Earth — which seems reasonable, given that we have not yet found it anywhere else — then it must have done so in the billion years between Earth coming into being and the preservation of the oldest known fossils. As well as narrowing down when life began, we can make an educated guess at what it was.
View image of The tree of life Credit: Hug, Banfield et al, Nature Microbiology Since the 19th Century, biologists have known that all living things are made of "cells": Cells were first discovered in the 17th Century, when the first modern microscopes were invented, but it took well over a century for anyone to realise that they were the basis of all life.
Using only the materials and conditions found on the Earth over 3.The origin of life on Earth is a set of paradoxes. In order for life to have gotten started, there must have been a genetic molecule—something like DNA or RNA—capable of passing along.
Primitive Earth. The origin of life on Earth is a highly curious thing. In fact, many scientists have dedicated their entire lives to finding out how life came to be on Earth. What is the origin of life on Earth?
Jack Szostak describes the chemistry that may have allowed life to first evolve. Origins of life on Earth Evolutionary tree showing the divergence of modern species from their common ancestor in the center.  The three domains are colored, with . Life on Earth began more than 3 billion years ago, evolving from the most basic of microbes into a dazzling array of complexity over time.
But how did the first organisms on the only known home to.
[7 Theories on the Origin of Life] [Extreme Life on Earth: 8 Bizarre Creatures] But the RNA World hypothesis doesn't explain how RNA itself first arose.
Like DNA, RNA is a complex molecule.