Scientists from Harvard recently made quite a discover: they identified isolated amino-acids lodged in a meteorite. Using the latest methods of analysis, it was later confirmed that this material was part of a unique complete protein structure seen nowhere on Earth.
Does that mean life as we know it didn’t necessarily start the way we always thought it did? Science has a lot of questions to answer.
A complete protein – a critical ingredient for life – is one that could finally solve the mystery of how life on earth began. If cells were to be the architects and protectors of organic life, proteins in many ways are the building blocks used to create it. While this discovery doesn’t fully confirm that this material comes from an extraterrestrial source, it doesn’t prove that life came from the stars. There are several hypotheses that may indicate that life here on earth began with the help of interstellar space rocks.
Discovering The First Complete Protein
While single and even chains of amino-acids were found in space before, this is the first time that a complete protein was discovered. The more exciting conclusion on the materials found in the meteorite was that it didn’t come from earthly substances. Researchers measured the ratio between deuterium/hydrogen which is similar to carbon dating and helps to study the origins of materials.
The insights from the study revealed “very high extraterrestrial D/H ratios,” according to a report from Vice. This suggests that the protein could come from a period before the sun was born, or even earlier before the solar system came together. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this discovery is that these water-protein reactions tested by scientists could possibly show that they play a role in the formation of our solar system.
Life As We Know It
Down here on earth, there’s a very high possibility that the same splitting of molecules from water into hydrogen and oxygen also played a major role in the creation of life on earth, suggesting that extraterrestrial proteins like hemolithin might have triggered these reactions right here on our planet. There’s so much more to be discovered.