According to Sankar Chatterjee, a Texas Tech University paleontologist, meteorite bombardment left large craters on Earth that contained water and chemical building blocks for life, which ultimately led to the first organisms. (Agencies)
How life begins on planet Earth has baffled humans for millennia. Chatterjee believes he has found the answer by connecting theories on chemical evolution with evidence related to our planet's early geology.
"This is bigger than finding any dinosaur. This is what we have all searched for - the Holy Grail of science," Chatterjee said.
Thanks to regular and heavy comet and meteorite bombardment of Earth's surface during its formative years 4 billion years ago, the large craters left behind not only contained water and the basic chemical building blocks for life, but also became the perfect crucible to concentrate and cook these chemicals to create the first simple organisms.
Chatterjee's research suggests meteorites can be givers of life as well as takers. He said that meteor and comet strikes likely brought the ingredients and created the right conditions for life on our planet.
By studying three sites containing the world's oldest fossils, he believes he knows how the first single-celled organisms formed in hydrothermal crater basins.
"When the Earth formed some 4.5 billion years ago, it was a sterile planet inhospitable to living organisms," Chatterjee said.
"It was a seething cauldron of erupting volcanoes, raining meteors and hot, noxious gasses. One billion years later, it was a placid, watery planet teeming with microbial life – the ancestors to all living things," he said.
Chatterjee presented his findings during the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver.
According to Sankar Chatterjee, a Texas Tech University paleontologist, meteorite bombardment left large craters on Earth that contained water and chemical building blocks for life, which ultimately led to the first organisms.