Origins

  • Seeing Life in Viruses
    From Astrobiology Magazine, European Edition is a story about research conducted by Kirsi Lehto of the University of Turku in Finland. Lehto studies plant viruses with an eye toward their role in the origin and evolution of life.
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  • Disease is as Old as Life
    Scientists have discovered that many genes related to disease are probably as old as the very first living cell. Other disease-related genes can be traced back to important moments in evolution, such as the origin of mammals.
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  • Magnetic Death Star
    Scientists have discovered microscopic, magnetic fossils unlike anything previously seen. The fossils were discovered in sediments along the Atlantic that were deposited during an ancient period of global-warming.
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  • Shifting to Life on Land
    Fossils from an organism known as the 'fishapod' are helping scientists understand how life moved out of the sea and began to walk on dry land. The study is providing new insights about this important step in the evolution of life on Earth.
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  • The Spark of Life
    A re-examination of samples from a classic 'origin-of-life' experiment indicates that volcanoes may have played an important role in life's beginnings on Earth. The study could also have implications in determining potential habitats for life beyond our planet.
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  • "Alien" Water Bears Amaze Scientists
    Tardigrades, commonly known as "water bears", have been reared under laboratory conditions and subjected to a barrage of tests. Their survivability shows that animals can survive extreme conditions, and also may indicate how humans could adapt to the rigors of space.
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  • How Deep is the Gene Pool?
    The latest issue of Astrobiology Magazine, European Edition features an interview with Anthony Poole, a molecular biologist at Stockholm University in Sweden. In this interview, Poole explains why horizontal gene transfer took time to develop, and what that means for our understanding of early
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  • Life is Lonely at the Center of the Earth
    Deep in the Mponeng gold mine near Johannesburg, South Africa, a rod-shaped bacterium named Desulforudis audaxviator lives in total darkness. Now scientists have discovered through genetic analysis that this organism also lives in complete isolation. Almost all organisms on Earth live in interdependent communities,
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  • Animals Making Tracks
    The fossilized trail of an aquatic creature suggests that animals walked using legs at least 30 million years earlier than had been thought. Scientists once thought that it was primarily microbes and simple multicellular animals that existed prior to the Cambrian, but studies like
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  • Short RNAs Have a Long History
    MicroRNAs are tiny molecules used to fine-tune how genes are expressed. Now scientists are beginning to understand the early evolution of these important molecules and how they have affected the evolution of life on our planet.
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  • Breathing Like a Bird
    The remains of a unique dinosaur discovered in Argentina are helping scientists understand the connections between dinosaurs and birds. The study sheds light on an important moment in the evolution of life on our planet.
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  • Digging up Ancient Microbes
    Limestone from Namibia has biomarkers that indicate a community of microbes oxidized methane at least 300 million years ago. Such biomarkers can provide clues to the history of life on Earth, and could help scientists search for signs of life on other worlds.
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  • Swashbuckling Scientists Discover Northern Vents
    From Astrobiology Magazine, European Edition is a story of how researchers recently explored the ocean floor between Greenland and Norway. They discovered hydrothermal vents that support an extremophile ecosystem. The find supports the idea that biological communities could exist on other worlds.
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  • Luck Gave Dinosaurs an Edge
    A new study shows that early dinosaurs survived two mass extinctions before they became dominant on Earth. Interestingly, it appears that their survival may have been based on luck alone.
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  • Ratio is All in the Timing
    A new study of carbon in seafloor sediments is helping scientists better understand the timing of life's origin on Earth. The findings may also change our assumptions about the history of Earth's carbon cycle.
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