New insight into first life

Oct 04, 2010 by Cath Harris
The Archaea Thermococcus Gammatolerans by Wikimedia/Angels Tapias.

(PhysOrg.com) -- New genome research at Oxford University could change the way scientists view our evolution.

The relationship and emergence of the three ‘domains’ of – the three founding branches of the Tree of Life to which all living cells belong – has been much disputed. Two of these domains, Bacteria and Eukaryotes (which includes all animals, plants and fungi) are familiar but less is known of the third: these organisms are collectively called the Archaea.

Some species of Archaea are adapted to live in extremes such as the boiling sulphur springs of Yellowstone National Park or the high salt concentrations of the Dead Sea. Others, such as the group Thaumarchaea, are found in more moderate environments including the warm surface waters of oceans.

Steven Kelly, of Oxford University's Department of Plant Sciences, tracked the evolutionary history of the three domains by analysing more than 3,500 families of genes in the Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryotes. He and his colleagues found that Eukaryotes are most closely related to the Thaumarchaea.

The study, recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, also suggests that the metabolism of the earth’s first organisms was based on methane production. 'That’s a really important discovery because it gives us a real insight into how life got started, which is one of the biggest questions in evolutionary biology,' Steven said. 'This is a step change in the way people think about how life on earth developed.'

The ability to link advances in our knowledge of to changes in past atmospheric and environmental conditions will enhance our knowledge of how life is adapting to the changing environmental conditions we see today, Steven believes.

This new research suggests that Archaea are as ancient as their name suggests. Evidence from geology and genetics, coupled with the findings, suggests that Eukaryotes evolved between 2 and 2.5 billion years after Archaea, which emerged around 3.5 billion years ago.

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User comments : 18

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dtxx
3.8 / 5 (16) Oct 04, 2010
In before Kevinrtrs posts about the glory of gods plan and how when you are watching evolution or star formation its god at work. But, he wants to hide his presence and refuses to talk to us.
Quantum_Conundrum
Oct 04, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Justavian
4 / 5 (16) Oct 04, 2010
Which god is it that is speaking, QC? There are lots to choose from, each with apparently different and contradictory demands. How does one determine which is speaking, or whether one is actually just hearing voices? Why is it that people almost always hear the god of their parents?

What you're really saying is "you must have already have decided that my god is real, and be actively trying convince yourself of that fact - because the evidence isn't compelling on its own."
dtxx
3.8 / 5 (13) Oct 04, 2010
And what if one god asks you to do something and another god asks you not to? Of course the christian god is the correct answer (in my country).
gmurphy
4.6 / 5 (14) Oct 04, 2010
Throughout human history, God has always existed outside the sphere of our understanding, lightening and thunder, the aurora borealis, the origin of the planets and our own origin on this planet. As Science has successfully peeled away the layers of our ignorence and given us insight into these mysteries,the room allocated to God in our collective psyche has gotten smaller and smaller. The "faithful", as they like to be known, cling to remnants of uncertainty beyond our current knowledge in the hope that they may find their God there. Hope springs eternal.
MIBO
4.3 / 5 (8) Oct 04, 2010
Why is it that any interesting breakhrough results end up with a discussion about god?.
Maybe it's because all these believers are worried that science is discoverning how inevitable life is when the conditions suit, and just how wide the conditions are that can actually lead to life evolving.
stevede
4.3 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2010
25 years ago I did a little paper for micro reporting the methane utilization of Archaea. What's new is the evidence, not the theory itself.
Auxon
5 / 5 (2) Oct 04, 2010
Why is it that any interesting breakhrough results end up with a discussion about god?.
Maybe it's because all these believers are worried that science is discoverning how inevitable life is when the conditions suit, and just how wide the conditions are that can actually lead to life evolving.


The argument was started by a non-believer, so ... whatever. It's pointless and stupid to argue about this, and of course if someone is a believer and all they want to do is read up on some interesting science they are flamebaited into some argument. Waste of time.
jsa09
not rated yet Oct 04, 2010
hooray for Archaea looks like they precede us all.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Oct 04, 2010
that the metabolism of the earth’s first organisms was based on methane production.

What is the surprise here?
DamienS
4.4 / 5 (7) Oct 05, 2010
In the Bible, we can find many examples of God speaking even to unbelievers in one form or another.

It's ironic that theists conjure god as the creator of man when the opposite is true - man created god!
Jeremyh
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 05, 2010
In the Bible, we can find many examples of God speaking even to unbelievers in one form or another.

Two notable examples are the Pharaoh of Egypt at the time of Joseph, and then Nebuchadnezzar.

Ultimately, God speaks to everyone through one means or another. The problem is most simply aren't listening


Find another Site to post your dribble....
Jeremyh
5 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2010
Why is it that any interesting breakhrough results end up with a discussion about god?.
Maybe it's because all these believers are worried that science is discoverning how inevitable life is when the conditions suit, and just how wide the conditions are that can actually lead to life evolving.


The argument was started by a non-believer, so ... whatever. It's pointless and stupid to argue about this, and of course if someone is a believer and all they want to do is read up on some interesting science they are flamebaited into some argument. Waste of time.


If you believe in God you should rather not post on this site, because it has nothing to do with any gods.... Then you might be felt alone... Rather post on the subject being discussed, Excluding any references to your idea of GOD.....
kevinrtrs
1.3 / 5 (13) Oct 05, 2010
@Dtxx: Just to satisfy your whim to be first - I'll comment.
That’s a really important discovery because it gives us a real insight into how life got started, which is one of the biggest questions in evolutionary biology,'

I'm really glad to see the refreshingly honest comment from a researcher admitting that no evolutionary scientist knows how life got started on earth. This therefore begs the question: If you don't know how it started, how can you be so certain that it followed an evolutionary progress?
You can only come to such a conclusion based on philosophical grounds, the most important being that there is no God, i.e. an intelligent super being capable of designing and bringing fully formed birds, fish, animals and humans into being.
The current so-called evidence for evolution[molecules-to-man kind] can equally be applied as evidence for an intelligent designer re-using common design elements.
You cannot exclude that possibility except on philosophical grounds.
ShotmanMaslo
2 / 5 (4) Oct 05, 2010

I'm really glad to see the refreshingly honest comment from a researcher admitting that no evolutionary scientist knows how life got started on earth. This therefore begs the question: If you don't know how it started, how can you be so certain that it followed an evolutionary progress?
You can only come to such a conclusion based on philosophical grounds, the most important being that there is no God, i.e. an intelligent super being capable of designing and bringing fully formed birds, fish, animals and humans into being.


Nobody knows for sure how life started on Earth (of course, except creationists.. :p), and no scientist ever said that we know it.

You are totaly wrong if you think that molecules to man requires an assumption that there is no god. How did you come to such an absurd conclusion?
ShotmanMaslo
3.5 / 5 (8) Oct 05, 2010
"This therefore begs the question: If you don't know how it started, how can you be so certain that it followed an evolutionary progress?"

The answer is simple - we have very little evidence about how life started, but we have plenty of evidence that it followed an evolutionary path after it started.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (1) Oct 05, 2010
In the Bible, we can find many examples of God speaking even to unbelievers in one form or another.

Two notable examples are the Pharaoh of Egypt at the time of Joseph, and then Nebuchadnezzar.

Ultimately, God speaks to everyone through one means or another. The problem is most simply aren't listening


Geez, that sounds like the crap I've heard at church all the times I was dragged into one. From now on, when people say dumb things like that, I'm going to counter with an excerpt from The Lord of The Rings. That way, they'll see how bringing something out of a fantasy book is utterly ridiculous.
Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2010
Here we are again. People mixing up abiogenesis with evolution.

Evolution is a theory about how the motor runs - not what caused the starter motor to turn in the beginning.
Ravenrant
5 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2010
I think life's earliest ancestors are likely to be still around and waiting to be discovered. It will be another chink in the anti-evolutionists insane (and contrary to god) beliefs.