29 Aug '13, 9am
Earthlings are really Martians, says new theory
PARIS (AFP) - Life on Earth was kick-started thanks to a key mineral deposited by a meteorite from Mars, according to a novel theory aired on Thursday. The vital ingredient was an oxidised mineral form of the element molybdenum, which helped prevent carbon molecules - the building blocks of life - from degrading into a tar-like goo. The idea comes from Steven Benner, a professor at the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Gainesville, Florida, who was to present it at an international conference of geochemists in Florence, Italy. "It's only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidized that it is able to influence how early life formed," Prof Benner said in a press release.