An absolutely mind-boggling paper published in the academic journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology speculates that life on Earth had a not so little push from outer space.
The study, which is the result of decades of research, does not come from a tin foil basement theorist, nor was it published on some fringe site along with the mention of gay frogs.
The paper was published in a respected peer-reviewed journal and has 33 authors. The report, titled “Cause of Cambrian Explosion – Terrestrial or Cosmic?”, pulls out piles and piles of existing research in fields from Geology, to Astrobiology to conclude that retroviruses brought from outer space on comets played a key role in the evolution and diversification of life in our planet.
“In our view the totality of the multifactorial data and critical analyses assembled by Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe and their many colleagues since the 1960s leads to a very plausible conclusion – life may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago);” they state on the paper.
Your jaw is on the floor yet? Check this out, “living organisms such as space-resistant and space-hardy bacteria, viruses, more complex eukaryotic cells, fertilised ova and seeds have been continuously delivered ever since to Earth so being one important driver of further terrestrial evolution which has resulted in considerable genetic diversity and which has led to the emergence of mankind.”
No, I did not bring this up from the script of Prometheus.
It was during the Cambrian period when the group of molluscs known as cephalopods diversified into a wide array of sizes and shapes in a remarkably short timespan.
These organisms, which include today’s cuttlefish, octopuses and squids, have the outstanding ability to edit their DNA on the fly. This paper says all these weird, fabulous fellows are one of those consequences life from space fiddling with terrestrial genetics.
The authors even stretch the imagination a bit, hypothesizing that these animals might be aliens altogether, “Thus the possibility that cryopreserved squid and/or octopus eggs, arrived in icy bolides several hundred million years ago should not be discounted,”
Journal editor Denis Noble says there is still plenty of room for discussion, acknowledging that further advancements will provide new clues to the puzzle.
”As space chemistry and biology grows in importance it is appropriate for a journal devoted to the interface between physics and biology to encourage the debates,” says Noble, “In the future, the ideas will surely become testable.”