Image: Life Started on Mars, Came to Earth on Meteorite, Evidence Suggests

Life Started on Mars, Came to Earth on Meteorite, Evidence Suggests

Thursday, 29 Aug 2013 11:01 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Scientists have long speculated that life started on Mars, but now new evidence confirms that key molecules necessary for existence may have originated on the red planet before being transported to Earth aboard a meteorite.

"The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," Dr. Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology said in a statement before presenting his findings at the 2013 Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Italy this week.

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Benner believes that an oxidized form of the chemical element molybdenum, one of the essential components of life, was present on Mars, according to the BBC.

"This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because 3 billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did," Benner said. "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."

Benner's theory relies on two commonly held assumptions — that all living organisms are composed of organic matter, and that DNA, RNA, and proteins are the three main macromolecules essential for life. He argues that life must have started on Mars because the red planet was a more suitable environment billions of years ago since it had less water than Earth, and water is believed to be corrosive to the life molecules.

Regardless of life's origins, though, Benner said it's a good thing that it continues on Earth.

"It’s lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life," Benner said. "If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell."

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Related stories:

Water on Mars: Ocean Covered Third of Red Planet, Evidence Suggests

NASA's Curiosity Rover Celebrates 1 Year on Mars

NASA: Recent Mars Discovery 'One for the History Books'  

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