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Molecular Evolution

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adenylate kinase enzyme bond

HOT AND COLD Scientists reconstructed three billion years of genetic history for the adenylate kinase enzyme (shown here bound to another molecule) to see how ancient enzymes might have adapted to a cooler Earth.

bubbles

TINY BUBBLES  Cooking up Earth’s first life probably required many “pots.” Spatial segregation into different pools or separate droplets might have helped the first self-replicating molecules survive. Later, protocells like those shown here provided more stable compartmentalization.

silicon-based life illustration

FREAKY FUTURE Is silicon-based life (illustrated above) out there in the universe? The jury is still out — but with a little help from humans, life on Earth might be able to sprinkle a little silicon in with its carbon.

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