*In advance, this is my first thread on ATS. While I believe I have a grasp on the guidelines, please excuse any non-working links or such that may
take me a while to figure out. Also, this topic may be based in a science with big words, but if you wade through the information, it just may lead
you to think about things a little differently. Everything I am presenting to you is scientific fact, it just may be me seeing it a little differently
The human understanding of the building-blocks of the world around us is at a higher point than any time in history.
We have mapped the genome, and can even give you a test to tell you what diseases you are likely to die from.
And yet to me, one of the largest mysteries still to be fully researched is one that we discovered back in the 1840's... Mitochondria.
Wiki - Mitochondrion
Most complex organisms on Earth that contain nucleic cells are actually made of two organisms on a cellular level. In a simpler way, there are two
types of cells: Nucleic cells (Eukaryotes), and non-nucleic cells (Prokaryotes). All complex organisms are Eukaryotes, and most contain
The strangeness begins when you realize that Mitochondria are actually nothing more than a Prokaryote that has, through some form of evolution or
another, become bonded in a symbiotic relationship with the Eukaryotic cell that it inhabits.
Origin of the Mitochondrion
It is unclear whether the Prokaryotes directly evolved into Eukaryotes, or whether they took advantage of the relationship at a later time, but we do
know that they are in essence two separate organisms... the Mitochondria being evolved from a bacteria.
Function of Mitochondria
The basic function of the Mitochondria is energy conversion and metabolism control. The creation of energy in Eukaryotic cells is known as the
The creation of energy is normally accomplished through cellular respiration, which is basically the conversion of oxygen and acetate/sugars into
energy. It was once believed that all mitochondria required cellular respiration, and the use of oxygen... but it is now known that mitochondria are
capable of producing limited energy with no oxygen present at all, at least in certain plants (Rice
It is even known that when oxygen is limited in other organisms, that some nucleic cells have the option of producing energy completely independent of
the mitochondria (Anaerobic Cellular Respiration
Origin of Cells:
Now, the oldest known cellular fossils are around 3.8 billion years old! To put this in perspective, the oldest known rocks ever discovered are 3.96
billion years old. At 3.5 billion years we can even already see Cyanobacteria
, that is,
blue-green algae. In the grand time-scale of things, the original cooling of our planet is very close to the original existence of life itself.
These earliest cells were also already quite complex and are therefore believed to have already evolved from an early form. Of course, we have yet to
actually discover any earlier cells, at least on Earth. We'll get back to this in a moment.
So now we have the almost synchronized timings of the original formation of the first solid rocks (and presumably the atmosphere), and also the
creation of the first known life on the planet. What was the catalyst?
Older than Earth?
So if the oldest known cells on Earth are already quite old and complex, where have we seen evidence of earlier, smaller cells? A Martian meteorite
known as ALH 84001
*In the fairness of transparency, I will say that it can not be 100% proven that these fossils are ancient bacteria. But what can be 100% proven is
that they look like other known bacteria, that they have the same size proportions to other known bacteria, that they show signs of colonizing like
known bacteria, and that the minerals around the fossils show characteristics of being acted on by bacteria. In my opinion it's as the old saying
goes; if it looks like a duck... *
As of this writing, the only
known smaller and "older" cells than those original complex cells found on Earth have come from space.
Is it really so hard for science to accept the fact that we may not be the center of life in the universe? We know for a fact that water did not
originate on Earth. There are icy comets half the size of our planet. If we can come to agree that water has been created elsewhere in the universe,
why is it so difficult to think that bacteria might have originated elsewhere also?
Truthfully, with the information known to us, would this not be the most likely scenario
We have the almost simultaneous formation of the solid planet as we know it, and also the seeding of life. Science has no way of proving/explaining
how this happened.
I find it just as likely that a huge icy comet at some point impacted our planet; simultaneously helping to start the cooling effect needed to form
solid rock, depositing the original water molecules on the planet, setting the events that would create our atmosphere into motion (through the gases
released from the impact), and depositing a simple bacteria onto the planet during the collision.
I believe it may very well be that while life, in the form of early Prokaryotic cells, originated in space... that perhaps Earth was the only place
that had the perfect mixture of ingredients to help that original cell evolve into the more complex Eukaryotic cells we see in most higher organisms
I believe that the Mitochondria that we see in Eukaryotic cells today might be the evolutionary "fossil" of our ancestors... those original "space
bacteria" that seeded our planet billions of years ago.
You may argue that no bacteria would be able to either:
a) be able to survive the entry into the atmosphere,
b) that it would not be able to survive the trip through the freezing vacuum of space...
But i would argue that there are known bacteria that happily thrive 5 kilometers under the surface of the Earth in extremely hot volcanic rocks, and
that bacteria have been tested and proven to survive 553 days of exposure to space on the outside of the International Space Station!
The fact that some Mitochondria can produce energy without oxygen might even be an evolutionary remnant of that long-ago journey our cellular
A lot of science fiction stories have been based off of aliens seeding our planet, and maybe they weren't too far from the truth...
They just might have been off by about 4 billion years.
edit on 4-1-2012 by YouAreLiedTo because: Fixed links