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Hot Topic Origins Origin & Evolution of Life
How Life Shatters Chemistry's Mirror
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Handedness, or "chirality," is when molecules come in two forms that are mirror images of each other, like right- and left-handed gloves. Even though chiral molecules are produced equally in nature, life seems to prefer one hand over the other. The reason for this is a mystery that scientists are struggling to answer.

Sponges are Separate
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Scientists have managed to explain the relationships between certain animal groups that appeared early in evolutionary history. The study is helping scientists reconstruct the "Tree of Life" on Earth.

Big Fish are Toast
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
A new study pinpoints why large, bony fish suffered heavily during the last mass extinction 65 million years ago. The results are helping scientists understand the evolutionary processes behind life's history on our planet.

Rewriting the DNA Alphabet
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Scientists have presented an artificial genetic system using a type of DNA with 12 chemical letters instead of the usual four. The technology is shedding light on the origins of life on Earth, and could be used to personalize medicine for millions of patients.

Life´s Crystal Code
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
What do we have in common with a crystal chandelier? We´re both made of material that replicates its own structure. In our case it´s DNA, while the crystals in the chandelier grew from minerals like quartz. One scientist thinks for early life on Earth, certain mineral crystals played the role that DNA does for us today.

Reverse Ecology
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Researchers are using a technique called ‘reverse ecology´ to understand past environments on Earth. By examining the genes of bacteria, scientists are able to reconstruct what the organisms´ environments looked like millions of years ago. The data could help us understand key events in the history of life on Earth.

Ribosome Building Blocks
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Scientists have solved a major mystery about the origin of life. They have presented a new theory about how an essential component of every living cell was first able to self-assemble. The ribosome in cells allow genetic material to be read, and the creation of ribosomes is a critical step in the origin of life.

Unlocking the Combination
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Researchers in the field of synthetic biology are yielding clues about the origin of life on Earth. By studying how molecules self-assemble, the team is helping scientists understand how the first protocells may have captured energy and nutrients from the environment - allowing for growth and reproduction.

Echoes of Extinction
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
Paleontologists are examining the long-lasting effects of a 65 million-year-old mass extinction. Dinosaurs and many other organisms disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous, and the evolutionary ramifications can still be seen today.

Sponges on Steroids
Topic: Origin & Evolution of Life
New NASA-funded research shows that complex life on Earth may have evolved 80 million years earlier than previously thought. The earliest animal ancestors appear to be sponges, which rarely leave behind fossils.

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