Traces of Inaugural Life

Geologists, biologists join forces to tell new stories about the first cells on Earth

By Sarah C.P. Williams, 10:48 AM May 3, 2012

Earth’s first living organisms didn’t leave behind footprints or bite marks or bones. These single cells thrived quietly in a tiny pocket somewhere on the planet. For centuries, scientists trying to describe this earliest life have relied on evidence provided by biology, studying what features modern life-forms have in common to deduce the most primitive components of cells. By working backward, biologists have developed proposals describing when and where such simple forms of life could hav...

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