The Paleontological Record

  • William R. Nes
  • W. David Nes
Part of the Monographs in Lipid Research book series (MLR)


There has been a great deal of speculation in the last few decades about the possible spontaneous origin of life either on this planet or elsewhere in space. We shall therefore begin our examination of the past by reviewing what we know about extraterrestrial lipids and other compounds. Early in the present century spectroscopic examination of light reaching our planet revealed that about 99% of the matter of the universe is in the nuclear form corresponding to hydrogen and helium. In the remaining tiny fraction are found all the other elements, including those from which life is constructed (Table 5). After hydrogen and helium, due to the nature of the “big bang,” the next most abundant atoms are the next simplest ones, i.e., those of the first row of the periodic table, including the biochemically important carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen.


Fossil Record Phytanic Acid Brown Coal Ursolic Acid Methyl Formate 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • William R. Nes
    • 1
  • W. David Nes
    • 2
  1. 1.Drexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.U. S. Department of AgricultureWestern Regional Research CenterBerkeleyUSA

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