Don't believe that whole "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" trope. New evidence seems to support the theory that we're all from the red planet.
For decades, some scientists have postulated that life started on Mars, with experts pointing to the ability of bacteria to withstand harsh conditions as evidence. While the theory that such bacteria hitched a ride on a meteorite and made their way to Earth may seem far-fetched, the idea has gained support from new research unveiled this week at the 2013 Goldschmidt Conference in Italy.
"The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," Dr. Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology said in a statement issued before his presentation at the annual geochemistry colloquium. The institute is located in Gainesville, Fla.
In Florence on Thursday, Benner is expected to report that the oxidized mineral form of the chemical element molybdenum may have been a key to the origin of life. Molybdenum is believed not to have been present on Earth at the time life originated.
"This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did," Benner said in the statement. "It’s yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet."
Under Benner's research, the theory of how life began hinges primarily on two paradoxes:
Benner's theory that life originated on Mars is unproven, of course. But it's possible that it could be substantiated by evidence collected from the red planet. A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is trying to do just that feat by building a detection tool capable of taking samples on Mars and analyzing them for DNA and RNA.
“It’s a long shot," MIT researcher Christopher Carr said in an announcement of the Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes project in 2011, "but if we go to Mars and find life that’s related to us, we could have originated on Mars."
"Or if it started here," he said, "it could have been transferred to Mars."