Legends about the creation of a man from clay may be true

Image credit: IsaacLugaliaArts
Legends are told all over the world that the gods molded the first man out of clay. But what if these myths echo reality in strange ways? Helen Hansma, biophysicist emeritus at the University of California, argues that primitive cells could have originated in mica clay, which thus became the “mother” of all life.

The hypothesis that primary life could originate in mica clay appeared about 16 years ago. And this is just one of the many “clay” hypotheses that explain the emergence of living cells on Earth. Others include the development of primitive organisms on montmorillonite clay or iron-rich clays.

Helen Hansma, honorary biophysicist at the University of California (USA), believes that thin plates of mica formed “cauldrons” in which primary biomolecules were concentrated.

This new environment provided some protection from the outside world, while allowing the ingress of water and other substances necessary for the emergence of living cells.

Essentially, mica acted as “scaffolding” and “reaction boilers” for organic molecules. At the same time, unlike montmorillonite clays, mica clays are more stable due to the potassium ions that hold mica layers together, which provided more comfortable conditions for nascent life.

In addition, modern living cells contain a large amount of potassium ions, while the concentration of sodium ions – the main “glue” that holds the layers of montmorillonite clay together – is much lower in them.

Finally, another factor in favor of mica clay is that water can flow between its layers, providing energy for primary biochemical processes. Roughly speaking, the water itself pushed molecules reacting with each other, which could eventually lead to the formation of complex proteins and nucleic acids.

There are other arguments in favor of mica clays: for example, it is one of the oldest clays on our planet that existed at the time of the origin of life. In addition, even today, organic molecules and even whole living cells can be found between mica plates.

Of course, no one can say for sure what actually happened in the Earth’s seas over four billion years ago, but Dr. Hansma’s hypothesis certainly deserves attention.

But even more interesting is that ancient legends and myths are increasingly becoming a reality.

The study was published in the Biophysical Journal.

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