Artists illustration of early Earth, 4.5 billion years ago, about a year after a Mars-sized object hit Earth and formed the Earth-Moon system. The still molten moon with an impact in progress (upper left) is viewed from Earths volcanic surface. Meteorites and comets -- like the comet visible in the sky -- delivered materials needed for life on Earth. Rings remaining from the collision and other debris, including moonlets not yet swept up by the moon, are visible. An Orion-like nebula appears at upper right. (Painting copyrighted by artist James V. Scotti, UA Lunar & Planetary Lab)
University of Arizona scientists have discovered that meteorites, particularly iron meteorites, may have been critical to the evolution of life on Earth.
Their research shows that meteorites easily could have provided more phosphorus than naturally occurs on Earth -- enough phosphorus to give rise to biomolecules which eventually assembled into living, replicating organisms.
Phosphorus is central to life. It forms the backbone of DNA and RNA because it connects these molecules’ genetic bases into long chains. It is vital to metabolism because it is linked with life’s fundamental fuel, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy that powers growth and movement. And phosphorus is part of living architecture – it is in the phospholipids that make up cell walls and in the bones of vertebrates.
Lori Stiles | EurekAlert!
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