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Scientists are rethinking where life originated on Earth

Rather than springing up from the sea, the first biological cells may have formed on land, Nature reports. Water is essential to life, but it also breaks apart molecules like DNA and proteins, a paradox that has long puzzled scientists. Although chemists have created key components of cells by hitting chemical-based chemicals with ultraviolet (UV) radiation and subjecting them to dry and wet cycles, they have been unable to produce the same effects in seawaterlike conditions. Instead, researchers propose, life may have formed on bodies of water on land—perhaps formed by craters, like the Manicouagan Reservoir (above)—where there was intermittent availability of water as well as enough UV radiation from sunlight.

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