Life on Earth Began on Land, Not in Sea?
National Geographic News, February 13, 2012
Earth's first cellular life probably arose in vats of warm, slimy mud
fed by volcanically heated steam—and not in primordial oceans,
scientists say. The concept, based on the latest cellular and geologic
research, resembles a suggestion by famed naturalist Charles Darwin that
life could have sprung from a "warm little pond" rich in nutrients.
Despite this early musing by Darwin, marine-origin theories for life
have been popular in recent years, because oceanographers continue to
find oases of life thriving on the seafloor. But in the new study,
researchers argue that the fluid all cells struggle to keep within their
thin cellular membranes couldn't be more dissimilar to ancient ocean
water. Instead, the team discovered, this cellular fluid is very similar
to condensed vapors found in volcanic mud pots on land.