Illustration of pink strands of RNA on a blue background
Synthetic RNA Can Build Peptides, Hinting at Life’s Beginnings
Researchers engineered strands of RNA that can link amino acids together, suggesting a way that RNA and proteins may have emerged together to create the earliest forms of life.
ABOVE: © ISTOCK.COM, LUISMMOLINA
Synthetic RNA Can Build Peptides, Hinting at Life’s Beginnings
Synthetic RNA Can Build Peptides, Hinting at Life’s Beginnings

Researchers engineered strands of RNA that can link amino acids together, suggesting a way that RNA and proteins may have emerged together to create the earliest forms of life.

Researchers engineered strands of RNA that can link amino acids together, suggesting a way that RNA and proteins may have emerged together to create the earliest forms of life.

ABOVE: © ISTOCK.COM, LUISMMOLINA

origins of life

Illustration of a meteorite shower heading for Earth
All RNA and DNA Base Types Are Found in Meteorites, Study Claims
Catherine Offord | Apr 27, 2022
The discovery could add weight to the hypothesis that the building blocks of life on Earth originally came from space, but some scientists note the possibility of contamination.
Microbial Fossils Found in 3.4-Billion-Year-Old Subseafloor Rock
Ruth Williams | Jul 14, 2021
The material, now part of an African mountain range, bolsters the idea that hydrothermal veins supported early forms of life.
Contributors
The Scientist Staff | Nov 1, 2020
Meet some of the people featured in the November 2020 issue of The Scientist.
RNA-DNA Chimeras Might Have Supported the Origin of Life on Earth
Jef Akst | Sep 17, 2019
A new study finds mixtures of nucleotide types, rather than pure systems, are more likely to yield the building blocks of life.
Opinion: Constrain Speculation to Protect the Integrity of Science
Mike Klymkowsky | Jun 18, 2018
What we can know about biology before the last universal common ancestor is limited—and we should be circumspect in filling in the gaps.
EPA’s Scott Pruitt Doesn’t Buy Evolution
Kerry Grens | Mar 4, 2018
In audio files from 2005, the future Administrator of the EPA said there’s a lack of “sufficient scientific facts” to back the theory.
Building Blocks of Life May Have Formed in Water Droplets
Ashley Yeager | Oct 23, 2017
Reactions that generate fundamental components of the cell run smoothly in microdroplets, study shows.
In Canada, Signs of Life Nearly 4 Billion Years Old
Ashley P. Taylor | Sep 28, 2017
Embedded within 3.95-billion-year-old rock, scientists have found graphite with a carbon signature that indicates biological activity.
Asgard Archaea Hint at Eukaryotic Origins
Joshua A. Krisch | Jan 17, 2017
A newly discovered superphylum of archaea may be related to a microbe that engulfed a bacterium to give rise to complex eukaryotic life.
Further Evidence that Life Might Have Started with RNA
Catherine Offord | May 13, 2016
Researchers show how RNA bases could self-assemble in conditions that might resemble Earth’s primordial soup.
Accomplished Biophysicist Dies
Catherine Offord | Apr 4, 2016
Harold Morowitz, who dedicated his career to investigating the origins of life, has passed away at age 88.
Life Before 4 Billion Years Ago?
Jef Akst | Oct 20, 2015
A new estimate of the origin of life on Earth pushes back the date by 300 million years.
Early Code
Jef Akst | Jun 3, 2015
New research points to key properties of transfer RNA molecules and amino acids that may have supported the origin of life on Earth.
The Living Set
Wim Hordijk | Jun 1, 2015
Mathematical and computational approaches are making strides in understanding how life might have emerged and organized itself from the basic chemistry of early Earth.
On the Origins of Life
Jef Akst | Mar 17, 2015
A new experimental system demonstrates that precursors of ribonucleotides, amino acids, and lipids may have simultaneously arisen from the same prebiotic chemistry.
Matthew Powner: Origin Solver
Jef Akst | Mar 1, 2014
Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, University College London. Age: 32
Is Earth Special?
David Waltham | Mar 1, 2014
Reconsidering the uniqueness of life on our planet
Discovering Archaea, 1977
Abby Olena | Mar 1, 2014
Ribosomal RNA fingerprints reveal the three domains of life.
Speaking of Science
The Scientist Staff | Mar 1, 2014
March 2014's selection of notable quotes