50 Years Ago

Chemical evidence paved way for discovery of early life

Excerpt from the August 1, 1964, issue of Science News Letter

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5:09pm, July 24, 2014

Clues to Life's Origin — Chemical clues to the origin of life have been found in billion-year-old rocks from Michigan…. Drs. Barghoorn, Schopf and Meinschein found porphyrins related to chlorophyll and hemoglobin, microfossils and optically active hydrocarbons in shale from the Nonesuch formation....  The molecules the scientists have found in the ancient rocks are either identical or very close relatives to those present in young sediments, which are known to consist of former living things. There is hope that the biological compounds just discovered can be used as a geological “clock.” — Science News LetterAugust 1, 1964

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