Saturday, 18 February 2012

New Origin of Life Theory Attracts Criticism

Two years ago, a black smoker was seen as a potential cradle of life. Image courtesy of P. Rona, NOAA.

Joel Kontinen

Naturalistic origin of life theories are not known by their longevity. Two years ago researchers discarded the primordial soup view and replaced it with a black smoker hypothesis.

Researchers have suggested an arsenic lake, meteorites and comets as the birthplaces of life. A common denominator of these theories is their brief life span.

Recently, Armen Mulkidjanian at the University of Osnabrück showed that life could not have emerged in the oceans. He suggested that the first life on earth originated in hot springs in Russia.

According to the journal Nature, Mulkidjanian’s paper has caused a stir in the origin of life community. Nick Lane, a biochemist at University College London, sees that Mulkidjanian’s view is “problematic both biologically and geologically.” He feels that there was not enough dry land in the beginning to give life a foothold. Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School, also thinks that the new suggestion is problematic.

The basic problem with naturalistic origin of life theories is that they are incapable of explaining the emergence of life.

Much more than just water is needed for life.


Barras, Colin. 2012. Russian hot springs point to rocky origins for life. New Scientist (13 February).

Switek, Brian. 2012. Debate bubbles over the origin of life. Nature news (13 February)