According to biochemist Steven Benner of Florida’s Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology, life as we know it may have traveled here courtesy of a Martian meteorite. He bases his theory on what Mars and Earth were like three billion years ago: Mars had more oxygen, which allowed for the creation of a highly-oxidized form of molybdenum that may have played a significant role in the development of life. It also was dry enough to allow boron, another important role-playing element, to form, whereas Earth was probably covered completely by water at the time. Benner presented his findings this week at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Florence.
What’s the Big Idea?
Scientists have long speculated that life, in the form of extra-tough microbes, may have arrived here via a meteorite or other space object. Another factor that favors Benner’s theory of Mars as the origin is simple orbital dynamics, which “show that it’s much easier for rocks to travel from Mars to Earth than the other way around.” It’s a good thing those microbes left when they did, he says: “If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell.”
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