Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 95–101

A proposal concerning the origin of life on the planet earth

  • C. R. Woese

DOI: 10.1007/BF01732865

Cite this article as:
Woese, C.R. J Mol Evol (1979) 13: 95. doi:10.1007/BF01732865


The widely accepted Oparin thesis for the origin and early evolution of life seems sufficiently far from the true state of affairs as to be considered incorrect. It is proposed that life on earth actually arose in the planet's atmosphere, however an atmosphere very different from the present one. Because of an extremely warm surface, the early earth may have possessed no liquid surface water, its water being partitioned between a molten crust and a fairly dense atmosphere. Early preliving systems are taken to arise in the droplet phase in such an atmosphere. The early earth, which resembled Venus then and to some extent now, underwent a transition to its present condition largely as a result of the evolution of methanogenic metabolism.

Key words

Oparin Ocean Origin of Life Evolution Runaway greenhouse Photosynthesis Methanogenesis 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. R. Woese
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Genetics and DevelopmentUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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