We're All Martians? Did a Meteorite From Mars Spark Life on Earth?
Forget all that Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus relationship advice you’ve ever heard. And think back to a time that pre-dates the Bering Strait versus Turtle Island debate.
As it turns out, we’re all from Mars, every last one of us.
That is the conclusion of a study revealed on August 29 at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Florence, Italy, by biological scientist Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Gainsville, Florida. Long before the debate over Turtle Island’s indigenous origins ever erupted, life on Mother Earth may have been sparked by an element in a Martian meteorite.
Wait, what? We’re all Martians?
It’s all in the molybdenum, Benner said in a statement released by the conference. The element may be one of the sparks that ignites life, and this essential ingredient did not exist on Earth back when life first formed, according to Space.com.
"It’s only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidized that it is able to influence how early life formed," Benner said in the statement. "This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because 3 billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did. It’s yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet."
Boron is another key element, one that stabilizes RNA, which is the precursor to DNA. That too seems to have come from elsewhere.
"What’s quite clear is that boron, as an element, is quite scarce in Earth’s crust," Benner said in an interview with BBC News. “But Mars has been drier than Earth and more oxidizing, so if Earth is not suitable for the chemistry, Mars might be.”
How would such a transference happen? Via meteorites, reports National Public Radio. As Meenakshi Wadhwa, a cosmochemist at Arizona State University, told an interviewer in March, Mars and other planets get smacked constantly.
If the impact is hard enough, the force could knock loose rocks and other debris and fling them toward Earth. Think hockey player losing a tooth after smashing into the boards.
"The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," Benner told BBC News.
It wouldn’t be the last time a Martian meteorite hit us. As recently as July 2011, a hail of meteorites from the Red Planet fell in Morocco near a town called Tissint, the Associated Press reported in January 2012.
This doesn’t just happen to Mars, Wadhwa said. There may be moon rocks lying around somewhere, and who knows what other planets. Venus, perhaps?
Maybe there is something to that Venus-Mars theory after all.