One of the greatest mysteries facing humans is how life originated on Earth. Scientists have determined approximately when life began (roughly 3.8 billion years ago), but there is still intense debate about exactly how life began. One possibility has grown in popularity in the last two decades - that simple metabolic reactions emerged near ancient seafloor hot springs, enabling the leap from a non-living to a living world.
How life arose from the toxic and inhospitable environment of our planet billions of years ago remains a deep mystery. Researchers have simulated the conditions of an early Earth in test tubes, even fashioning some of life's basic ingredients. But how those ingredients assembled into living cells, and how life was first able to generate energy, remain unknown.
The spiral galaxy ESO 137-001 looks like a dandelion caught in a breeze in this new Hubble Space Telescope image.
With the help of a tiny fragment of zircon extracted from a remote rock outcrop in Australia, the picture of how our planet became habitable to life about 4.4 billion years ago is coming into sharper focus.
It has long been believed that the appearance of complex multicellular life towards the end of the Precambrian (the geologic interval lasting up until 541 million years ago) was facilitated by an increase in oxygen, as revealed in the geological record.
Why did life forms first begin to get larger and what advantage did this increase in size provide? UCLA biologists working with an international team of scientists examined the earliest communities of large multicellular organisms in the fossil record to help answer this question.
Life originated as a result of natural processes that exploited early Earth's raw materials. Scientific models of life's origins almost always look to minerals for such essential tasks as the synthesis of life's molecular building blocks or the supply of metabolic energy.
The mystery of why life on Earth evolved when it did has deepened with the publication of a new study in the latest edition of the journal Science.
Evidence of diverse life forms dating back nearly a hundred thousand years has been found in subglacial lake sediments by a group of British scientists. The possibility that extreme life forms might exist in the cold and dark lakes hidden kilometres beneath the Antarctic ice sheet has fascinated scientists for decades.
New evidence has purportedly emerged which supports the long-debated theory that life on Earth may have started on Mars.
Lake Vostok, buried under a glacier in Antarctica, is so dark, deep and cold that scientists had considered it a possible model for other planets, a place where nothing could live.
Early Earth was not very hospitable when it came to jump starting life. In fact, new research shows that life on Earth may have come from out of this world.
In an effort to determine if conditions were ever right on Mars to sustain life, a team of scientists, including a Michigan State University professor, has examined a meteorite that formed on the red planet more than a billion years ago.
University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers say they've established certain key features in proteins that are needed for life to function on Mars and other extreme environments.
University of Georgia researchers say they've discovered important genetic clues about archaea, one of Earth's oldest life forms.
Astronomers have found the strongest evidence yet that the ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa may consist of salty water, like our own. And, they say, that salty water appears to be making its way to the surface.
Life may well exist on planets orbiting dying stars - and, if it does, there's a good chance we'll find it within the next decade, say astrophysicists.
An American research team has successfully drilled through 2,600 feet of Antarctic ice to reach a subglacial lake and collect water and sediment samples that have been isolated for thousands of years.
Most stars in the Milky Way that resemble our sun are more likely to host planets that support life than our own.
It's always been a bit of a mystery as to how life began on a molecular level. Theories tend to involve a network of molecules that have the ability to work together to jumpstart and speed up their own replication.