NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSSThe Gale Crater Martian, which was the landing site for the Curiosity Mars rover.
AP Photo/NASALife could have developed on Mars, not Earth, a scientist says.
So says professor Steven Benner, who has presented a thesis that life in our solar system may have developed not on our blue planet, but on Mars.
“The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,” he told the BBC.
The surprising idea was presented by Benner — from the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Gainesville, Florida — at the Goldschmidt conference in Florence.
Benner argues that life needs very specific conditions to develop. Adding energy to the primordial soup of early Earth, Benner says, wouldn’t have created RNA, one of the three key molecular building blocks of life (along with DNA and proteins).
Generating RNA, Benner says, would have needed very specific “templating” minerals — specifically boron and molybdenum, which are far, far more abundant on Mars than they are on Earth.
“It’s only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidized that it is able to influence how early life formed,” Benner told Metro UK.
Because of this, he sees the origins of life on Mars, not Earth.
“This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did,” he told the BBC. ”It’s yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet.”
He does concede, of course, that Earth has been the better of the two planets at sustaining life, though he doesn’t rule out the possibility of new life forming on the Red Planet.
“In addition recent studies show that these conditions, suitable for the origin of life, may still exist on Mars,” Benner told the Daily Mail.