Blackwell Publishing

Fossils and the history of life - What can the fossil record tell us about the origins of life?


The building blocks of life

Most of what we know about the origin of life comes from modern research on the kinds of chemical reactions that may also have taken place on the Earth 3.5 billion years ago.

It is well known that many of the molecular building blocks of life (such as amino acids, sugars and nucleotides) can be synthesized from a solution of simpler molecules, of the sort that probably existed in the prebiotic seas, if an electric discharge or ultraviolet radiation is passed through it. Once the molecular building blocks exist, the next crucial step is the origin of a simple replicating molecule.

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