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Locations of Abiogenesis

The Origin of Life


Where did life first emerge?

Terrestrial Abiogenesis

This is the default “null hypothesis” for those tackling the origin of life question since Earth is the only known planet to harbor life, however it has numerous difficulties to overcome, not the least of which being the short time between the cooling of the Earth and the first indications of more-or-less modern-looking prokaryotic lifeforms, and the statistical unlikelihood that life began here when one considers all the planets in the galaxy life could have come to us from.

For more information see: Terrestrial Abiogenesis.

Hydrothermal Vent hypothesis — because hydrothermal vent systems are at least superficially some of the oldest on Earth (although they are chemically very different today than they were during the Hadean or Archaean eras), and because today’s hydrothermal vent systems host some of the most morphologically conservative lineages known (i.e., extant creatures who appear notably similar to their extremely ancient ancestors).

Hot Spring hypothesis

Frozen Lake hypothesis

Extraterrestrial Abiogenesis

“Martian Abiogenesis”

“Venerean Abiogenesis”

Hybrid Scenarios

Mother Earth & Father Mars — is a scenario in which the archaea are native to planet Earth, whereas the bacteria are from somewhere further away, such as Mars. Since it is academic at this point that all life on Earth shares a common genetic ancestor, this would necessarily have to be a prebiotic LUCA model, in which the last common ancestor of the archaea and the bacteria was not yet a “true” lifeform, and that the archaea and bacteria evolved traits of “true” life later on in an example of convergent evolution. The genetic common ancestor of these two groups would therefore logically have originally inhabited an environment unlike Earth or Mars.

“Mother Earth & Father Lucifer” — is a scenario in which the archaea are native to Earth whereas the bacteria are native to Venus (in ancient times, the “Evening Star” was named Venus and the “Morning Star” was named Lucifer, but they both referred to the same planet).

“Mother Venus & Father Mars” — is a scenario in which the archaea are from Venus and the bacteria are from Mars, and the two prokaryotic domains intermingled on Earth.


Anet, F.A.L. 2004. The place of metabolism in the origin of life. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology. 2004 Dec. 8(6), pp. 654–659. DOI:10.1016/j.cbpa.2004.10.005
<> in (von Meijenfeldt, 2013)

von Meijenfeldt, F. A. Bastiaan. The non-genetic dawn of life: a review of the contemporary standing of the metabolism-first approach to the origin of life enigma. 5 May 2013

LUCA: The Last Universal Common Ancestor
From Progressive Evolution to Opportunistic Evolution
The New Spontaneous Generation? "Early-Complexity" Hypotheses for Primordial Life
X-Philes: Extremophiles and Extremotolerant Organisms