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Hot Topic Origins Origin & Evolution of Life
Astrobiology Top 10: Reanimating Extinct Genes
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
AM is looking back over 2009, highlighting the top 10 astrobiology stories of the year. Our story number 5 is about research to insert ancient genes into modern bacteria. Will the bacteria evolve the same way it did in the past, or will it take an entirely new path? (This story originally was published on April 27, 2009).

Prussian Blue and the Origin of Life
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
By recreating the conditions present on the early Earth, researchers have shown that substances considered essential in forming basic biological molecules can be obtained from a salt called Prussian blue. These substances include hydrogen cyanide, urea, lactic acid and other important precursors for the origin of life.

Shallow Origins
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
New research, focusing on shallow hydrothermal vents, is shedding light on a possible location for where life on Earth began.

Fossils on the Edge of Forever
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Astrobiologists have not yet found alien life on other planets. But the fossil record has evidence of aliens of another sort: the Ediacarans that lived on Earth millions of years ago.

Sinking Life in Shallow Seas
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Scientists have revealed new information about a period of time spanning three of Earth's largest mass extinctions. The study shows how different marine environments - from oceans to seas that once covered large portions of the continents - respond differently to agents of mass extinction.

When Crocodiles Ate Dinosaurs
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Scientists have unearthed the remains of five ancient crocodiles, including three newly named species. The finding provides new information about the evolutionary history of life on Earth.

Primordial Soup Not Simmering
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Features discovered in 3.4 billion-year-old rocks indicate that temperatures on early Earth may have been dramatically cooler than previously believed. The finding could have implications in understanding the conditions in which life first evolved on our planet.

Uracil Made in the Lab
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
NASA scientists have reproduced uracil, a key component of the hereditary material, RNA. The uracil was created by exposing an ice sample containing the molecule pyrimidine to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions. The research may help astrobiologists understand how molecules for the origin of life were first made.

Dinosaur-Killer was Soft on Algae
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Molecular fossils of algae in the so-called "K-P boundary" point to a very fast recovery of these organisms following the meteorite impact that killed the dinosaurs.

Cooking Life's Ingredients, with a Pinch of Salt
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
By studying a chemical mixture thought to be present in the Earth's early oceans, scientists have discovered that amino acids can be 'cooked' into many other important building blocks of life when they are embedded in salt crusts. The finding could have important implications in our understanding of life's origins.

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