Image via NASA

There is a theory that’s gaining a bit of traction in the scientific community, a theory which suggests that life on Earth could have come from Mars. Evidence in favor of this theory has been building over the last couple of decades, and it indicates that we all (could be) Martians.

 

The theory basically asserts that, some 4-billion years ago, life started on Mars. Then a meteor then struck the planet, sending little chunks of Martian rocks (containing Martian life) into interplanetary space. One or more of these rocks then fell to Earth, seeding life on the planet and BOOM, here you are.

 

This new breed of evidence comes from the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology located in Florida after an analysis of a Martian meteorite. In August 2013, Prefessor Steven Benner revealed his findings at a geochemist summit.

On the surface, the findings are pretty simple, but they have deep ramifications. The analysis of these Martian meteorites shows the presence of highly oxidized molybdenum; a substance crucial to the early development of life. According to Professor Benner, “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. 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.”

 

There are a few problems with the Earth-based abiogenists theory that Benner’s research hopes to address (in favor of the Martial counterpart), the so-called “tar paradox” and the RNA-water problem.

 

The tar paradox, a term coined by Benner, is focused on the nature of certain organic matter. When light and energy is focused onto organic molecules and they are left to their own devices, instead of creating life the matter turns into a tar-like substance that’s, well, not very lifelike. However, some combinations of materials are prone to curve or prevent this tarring from happening, boron and molybdenum are two big names here. And interestingly enough, both of these materials were present on Mars, according to the analysis of Martian meteorites. This means that Mars certainly had the ingredients for life in its early history, but of course, whether or not Mars actually had life remains to be seen.

 

The second problem focuses on an issue with RNA and Earth’s history. Most scientists now believe that life started as RNA. They also believe that Earth’s early surface was completely covered in water. Each of those two facts, on their own, are fine and dandy, but when you combine the two, you get problems. First, boron only forms is dry places. Currently, on Earth, it’s only found in the driest regions of the planet (such as Death Valley). Secondly, water is corrosive to RNA, which poses a problem when life would have started in oceans as RNA.

 

The “life originating on Mars” idea is certainly looking more favorable the more we know about the origins of life. One day, maybe we’ll be able to proudly proclaim “Yes, I am a Martian Ape!” Either way, as Prefessor Benner so eloquently put it, “It’s lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell.”


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