Life on Earth was unlikely to have emerged from volcanic springs or hydrothermal vents, according to a leading US researcher.The findings are being discussed at an international two-day meeting to explore the latest thinking on the origin of life on Earth. David Deamer, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of California at Santa Cruz, said ahead of his presentation: "It is about 140 years since Charles Darwin suggested that life may have begun in a 'warm little pond'. We are now testing Darwin's idea, but in 'hot little puddles' associated with the volcanic regions of Kamchatka [Russia] and Mount Lassen [California, US]."
"The results are surprising and in some ways disappointing. It seems that hot acidic waters containing clay do not provide the right conditions for chemicals to assemble themselves into 'pioneer organisms.'"
Professor Deamer said that amino acids and DNA, the "building blocks" for life, and phosphate, another essential ingredient, cling to the surfaces of clay particles in the volcanic pools.
"The reason this is significant is that it has been proposed that clay promotes interesting chemical reactions relating to the origin of life," he explained.
"However," he added, "in our experiments, the organic compounds became so strongly held to the clay particles that they could not undergo any further chemical reactions."
This seems to contradict this previous Palaeoblog entry.
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