Ten years ago we were hit with the hype surrounding the ‘Martian meteorites’, believed to have brought life to Earth. After subsequent events, all has gone quiet on the ‘panspermia’ front – however, the details of a story posted at Yahoo News this weekend may have a significant impact (pardon the pun).
Genetic material from outer space found in a meteorite in Australia may well have played a key role in the origin of life on Earth, according to a study to be published Sunday. European and US scientists have proved for the first time that two bits of genetic coding, called nucleobases, contained in the meteor fragment, are truly extraterrestrial…
…A team of European and US scientists showed that the two types of molecules in the Australian meteorite contained a heavy form of carbon — carbon 13 — which could only have been formed in space.
“We believe early life may have adopted nucleobases from meteoric fragments for use in genetic coding, enabling them to pass on their successful features to subsequent generations,” Martins said.
It’s important to note that these are just chemicals that have been found – though important ones in the building blocks of life on Earth. So it certainly doesn’t offer proof that life here on Earth originated elsewhere (see Bad Astronomy for some cautionary notes). Still, it’s very interesting news and certainly gives panspermia advocates some evidence to argue from. (Thanks Rick)