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The mysterious origins of life on Earth

Billions of years ago, simple organic compounds assembled into more complex coalitions that could grow and reproduce. At the time, Earth had widespread volcanic activity and a hostile atmosphere that made it almost devoid of a suitable environment for living things. So where did life begin?

What are the origins of life on Earth? Explore our planet’s hydrothermal vents, specifically anaerobic white smokers along the mid-Atlantic ridge. There, the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) may have inhabited. Watch this revealing TED-Ed lesson by Luka Seamus Wright: The mysterious origins of life on Earth. From Smithsonian Magazine:

Life as we know it is currently divided into six kingdoms: plants, animals, fungus, protists, eubacteria and archaebacteria. The first four belong to the a domain known as eukaryotes, sporting cells with distinct nuclei. The other two kingdoms, eubacteria and archaebacteria are single-celled organisms without a distinct nucleus. All of them evolved from a single-celled ancestor that lived about 4 billion years ago when Earth was celestial baby.

After all those billions of years of change, LUCA’s fingerprints are still visible in the genes of modern organisms.

life on earth
hydrothermal vents
Keep reading: Behold LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor of Life on Earth.

Plus, more videos: When a volcano erupts underwater, Explaining The Tree of Life and We Are Dead Stars. Dr. Michelle Thaller explains.

Also: How Deep is the Ocean? and can ice on Europa and Enceladus help us find extraterrestrial life?

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