Complex molecules such as the one pictured here came together to form coacervates
Click on image for full size
In the warm primordial ocean, aggregates of amino acids, proteins, and other hydrocarbons came together into a form called *coacervates*
. Amino acids will spontaneously form coacervates in the same way that beads of vinegar in oil come together. The Miller-Urey
experiment showed that amino acids form under conditions similar to the Earth's primordial environment
These beads, or coacervates are perhaps the simplest of systems that, without a membrane, can be said to be bound together; that is they have a distinct inside and outside. The primordial ocean provided an ideal medium for their formation, for the primordial ocean was large, and water can hold the coacervates suspended for a long period of time without being disturbed.
It is not known whether these coacervates were life-like or not. Recall that life must be able to feed and reproduce itself.
The earliest life was probably much like coacervates however, and scientists think that this early life probably used a chemical process to process naturally produced organic compounds from the early ocean for food.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
"Science, Evolution, and Creationism
", by the National Academies, provides fascinating background on these topics for all, and is particularly useful for the Earth and space science classroom. Check our other books
in our online store
You might also be interested in:
The first beings were probably much like coacervates. As a group, these bacteria are called heterotrophic anaerobes (ann-air-robes). Because there was virtually no oxygen in the atmosphere at this time,...more
Scientists have found a type of amino acid in a sample returned from a comet. Amino acids are the building-blocks of proteins. Proteins are one of the most important types of molecules in living creatures....more
Jupiter's atmospheric environment is one of strong gravity, high pressure, strong winds, from 225 miles per hour to 1000 miles per hour, and cold temperatures of -270 degrees to +32 degrees (freezing temperature)....more
In July, 1996, it was announced that Dr. David McKay, along with a team of scientists at Johnson Space Center (a division of NASA), had discovered possible fossils of bacteria in a meteorite named ALH84...more
Saturn's atmospheric environment is one of strong gravity, high pressure, strong winds, from 225 miles per hour to 1000 miles per hour, and cold temperatures of -270 degrees to +80 degrees. With winds...more
Titan's atmosphere is a lot like the Earth's, except that it is very cold, from -330 degrees to -290 degrees! Like the Earth, there is a lot of Nitrogen and other complex molecules. There also may be an...more
Autotrophs are organisms that can "make their own food" from an inorganic source of carbon (carbon dioxide) given a source of energy. Most autotrophs use sunlight in the process of photosynthesis to make...more