Evolution

Evolution, a process of change through time, is what links together the enormous
diversity of the living world. A lot of evidence is present that indicates that
the earth has had a very long history and that all living things arose in the
course of that history from earlier, more simpler forms. In other words, all
species have descended from other species and all living things share common
ancestors in the past. Basically, organisms are what they are because of their
history. Today there are many theories and possibilities related to evolution
which contribute to our understanding of the process. Our planet was born 4.6
billion years ago as a great cloud of dust and gas condensed into a sphere. As
gravity pulled this great cloud tightly together, heat from great pressure and
radioactivity melted the planet’s interior and most of its mass. For millions
of years after this, strong volcanic activity all over the planet shook the
earth’s crust. At the same time, the earth was showered by a very strong
meteor shower. From studying volcanoes, it is known that eruptions pour out
carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other gases. It is also known that meteorites
carry water, in the form of ice, and many carbon containing compounds. That
might suggest that the combination of volcanic activity and a constant shower of
meteorites released the gases that created the Earth’s atmosphere. Geologists
believe that the earth’s early atmosphere contained water vapor, carbon
monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and nitrogen. It also may have contained
ammonia and methane. It did not contain oxygen, which is the main reason why the

Earth could not have supported life. As for oceans, they couldn’t have existed
at first because the Earth’s surface was extremely hot. But about 3.8 billion
years ago, the Earth’s surface cooled enough for water to remain a liquid on
the ground. Thunderstorms wet the planet for many years and oceans began to
fill. This is known because the earliest sedimentary rocks have been dated to
that time period. Miller and Urey were two scientists who attempted to explain
the origin of life on Earth without referring to any supernatural events. They
performed an experiment that suggests how the Earth’s atmosphere might have
formed. Miller mixed "atmospheric" gases (hydrogen, methane, ammonia,
and water vapor) in a sterile glass container and charged them with energy by
adding electric sparks to them. The electric sparks resembled lightning at the
time of the Earth’s formation. After about a week, the mixture turned brown
and was found to contain amino acids. This organic compound produced in this
experiment was efficient in knowing how the Earth’s early atmosphere formed.

That is because it was successful in producing some of the building blocks of
nucleic acids under geologically relevant conditions. A question that puzzled
scientists was how could all this have started in the first place. It is noted
that amino acids and nucleic acids stick to the structures of clay crystals. By
being held together in a regular pattern on clay crystals, these molecules
combine to form proteins and polynucleotides. Other researchers not that some
kinds of RNA can join amino acids into protein chains without help from protein
enzymes. Some forms of RNA can copy themselves and can actually edit other RNAs
by adding and deleting nucleotides. These experiments support another hypothesis
that RNA, rather than DNA, functioned as life’s first information storage
system. According to this hypothesis, life based on RNA have started when RNA
fragments began to copy and edit themselves and assemble proteins. As time
passed, these RNAs could have evolved to the point where they produced protein
enzymes that took over the work of bringing about chemical reactions. Later,
storing genetic information could have similarly been passed on to DNA. In this
way, over thousands of years, RNA, DNA, and proteins could have evolved into the
complex system that characterizes life today. Discovering that RNA can act as a
catalyst, makes it easier to imagine how life began. According to Bruce M.

Alberts, "One suspects that a crucial early event was the evolution of an

RNA molecule that could catalyze its own replication". That makes it very
obvious why it is possible that RNA was the first molecule that could replicate.

These molecules then diversified into a group of catalysts that could assemble
ribonucleotides in RNA synthesis or accumulate lipid-like molecules to form the
first cell membranes. This clearly suggest how the first membranes could have
formed. Fox and his co-workers attempted to find an answer, to the origin of
membranes and prokaryotes, in their laboratories. They heated amino acids
without water and formed long protein