Darwin posited the theory that all life on Earth began spontaneously from a ‘warm pool of water.’ This has been accepted as the best explanation for the origins of life but researchers from University College London have now offered up a different theory.
In their study, the team successfully created protocells in an alkaline sea water-like environment. Their theory is that life began in deep-sea hypothermal vents. In these vents, seawater comes into contact with minerals creating a warm alkaline environment with hydrogen. According to Science Daily, This created an energy source to facilitate chemical reactions between hydrogen and carbon dioxide to form complex organic compounds.
“In our experiments, we have created one of the essential components of life under conditions that are more reflective of ancient environments than many other laboratory studies,” Dr Jordan, the study’s first author, told Science Daily.
While this theory doesn’t discount Darwin’s entirely, since they are both just theories and have not been categorically proven, the idea that life began in vents rather than a shallow puddle by chance has peaked the interest of the scientific community who have been researching the origins of life.
“There are multiple competing theories as to where and how life started. Underwater hydrothermal vents are among most promising locations for life’s beginnings — our findings now add weight to that theory with solid experimental evidence,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Nick Lane.