Dr. Ray L. Winstead
Professor of Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

A. I. Oparin's Hypothetical Sequence of the Origin of Life

1) Formation of the planet with gases in the atmosphere that could serve as the raw materials for life. The most widely accepted astronomical theory for the origin of the earth and the rest of the solar system is that the solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago from a diffuse dust cloud. The central portion probably condensed to form the sun and areas in the outer parts of the cloud condensed to form the planets. (The beginning of the universe according to the "Big Bang" theory occurred about 13.7 billion years ago.)

2) Random synthesis of simple organic molecules (such as amino acids that make up proteins) from the gases in the surrounding atmosphere.

3) Formation of larger, more complex molecules (Macromolecules) from the simple organic molecules, e.g., the formation of simple proteins.

4) Formation of coacervates - unique droplets containing the macromolecules , i.e., a coacervate consists of chemicals suspended within a liquid surrounded by a membrane, e.g. a droplet consisting of chemicals in water surrounded by an oil layer membrane.

5) Development of some type of chemical organizers that function to give these droplets the ability to take in molecules, discharge other molecules, and control and maintain a characteristic chemical pattern. These chemical organizers would probably be similar to nucleic acids (that make up chromosomes).

6) Development of controlled reproduction to insure that resultant daughter cells have the same chemical capabilities. The droplets could now be considered to be primitive cells.

7) Beginnings of evolutionary developments so that a group of cells could adapt to changes in the environment over time.

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Dr. Ray L. Winstead
Direct e-mail Link: RWinstea@iup.edu