Origins Sunday: Early life liked it salty!

Cool link below describing research that shows how a certain set of 10 amino acids will fold when exposed to high salt concentrations, like those found naturally in certain regions of the early earth.  This may have allowed proteins to be functional before the cellular machinery to fold proteins had yet evolved.  Our earliest ancestors may have been halophiles (salt lovers).  Unfortunately, many of us retain that salt loving trait, and perhaps that’s why I love pizza so much?!? – craving the salt that my Archean ancestors loved so!

Origins Saturday: Origin of America!

by Rich Feldenberg Today, in honor of Independence Day weekend, we will do something slightly different with Origins Sunday.  For one thing we are temporarily converting it into Origins Saturday so it can coincide with Independence Day.  As a critical thinker it is important not to be rigid in your thinking, but to remain flexible so as to adjust to ever changing conditions – but that’s a topic for another time. In this episode of Origins, we also diverge from the usual topic of life’s origins, and instead will show the origins of the North American continent, and the place we now call The United States of America.  Today is the 239th birthday of the USA (happy birthday America), but the land mass that we live on is much older than that, and has been apart of other supercontinents in the distant past.  Below, you can see the distribution of the present day continents placed over the supercontinent Pangea. Pangea

read more Origins Saturday: Origin of America!

Fossil Friday: Oldest fossils on earth!

Modern day stromatolites in Sharks Bay, Australia Welcome back to Fossil Friday.  Today I’m linking to a 2013 article in LiveScience, that reports on 3.5 billion year old fossil bacteria.  These Australian fossils are among the oldest fossils yet discovered.  In life, they seem to have existed in shallow waters and may have been a variety of photosynthetic bacteria.  Not only did life arise very early in the history of our planet, but oxygen producing organisms appear to have gotten their start very early, as well.  The bacteria are visible as fossils because they form structures called stromatolites.  There are still bacterial stromatolites alive today in Australia.  They were probably common in the early oceans, but rare now due to predators that would easily gobble them up! Oldest Fossils on Earth