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Origin of life

Scientists and philosophers have tried to answer questions about the origin of life for millenniums. Mainly in occidental culture, the divine act of creation – as described in the Old Testament – was considered as the only possible answer to this question. In this context, Darwin’s theory of evolution confronted scientists with a new and difficult problem because they now had to explain how life originated from lifeless material. Today, the moment of the origin of life can be narrowed to a point in time 3.6 to 4 billion years ago. Scientists agree that life, as we know it today, depends on elements like carbon, nitrogen, phosphor and sulfur, besides liquid water. How the first living cells were able to develop from these elements and their compounds is the subject of lively discussions even today. The Oparin-Haldane theory of the primordial soup, the theory of hydrothermal vents as centers for the origin of life and the theory of the RNA-world are exemplary milestones in the discussion about the origin of life…

Biological information

Teaching material


Canopé Ludwig Maximilians Universität München Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster