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SciencePhysicsChemistryOrganic ChemistryAbiogenesisLocations of Abiogenesis

Terrestrial Abiogenesis

The Earthly Origin of Life


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.

Rough Timeline

~6 GYA — formation of the Sun and protoplanetary disk. A significant amount of prebiotic organic chemistry occurred during this time.

4.55 GYA — formation of the Earth.

4.28 GYA — earliest evidence of life.


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


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

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