URBANA, Ill. — A new study from the University of Illinois weighs in on the debate surrounding the origins of life on Earth.

University researchers have provided evidence for a “metabolism-first” model of creation by tracing the evolution of molecular functions through time.

Scientists agree that elements from early Earth’s primordial soup joined to form simple carbon-based molecules that became the predecessors of everything to come. But what happened next is an open question.

One popular theory suggests ribonucleic acid molecules jump-started life. They contain the genetic blueprints for proteins and are capable of performing simple chemical reactions. But some scientists argue RNA is too complex to have initiated it all. That group says simpler molecules had to evolve the ability to perform metabolic functions first.

The new research supports this second group.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.