Living things depend on the availability of water, but it breaks down DNA and other vital molecules. So how did the oldest cells deal with the water puzzle?
Contrary to popular opinion, the fundamental molecules of life, and its core elements, can form only in places such as Jezero — a somewhat shallow body of water fed by streams. So, the earliest life perhaps came into existence not inside deep water as the deep waters are known to break down DNA, and primitive life cannot survive that. It came in shallow streams.
This is because numerous studies suggest that the necessary chemicals of life need ultraviolet radiation from sunlight to form. The watery environment had to become highly concentrated or even dry out entirely at times. The rising evidence has pushed many researchers to reject the idea that life began in the oceans and instead focus on land environments in alternately dry and wet places.
So, to avoid water, the earliest life didn’t evolve in deep oceans but shallow trenches that gave birth to the rarest of the rare entities in the universe – a breathing, self-sustaining creature.
Life perhaps formed on land, where water was intermittently present.
Life as we know it would not exist without water. And known life exists wherever there is adequate water.
Like plants and animals, all organisms use water: fresh or salty, cold or hot, almost no water at all, or plenty of water. They are adapted to all kinds of habitats, from the freezing, pitch-dark ocean floor to sizzling deserts. The biggest threat to Life on Earth, other than meteorite collisions, is drying out of the Earth’s surface. However, the ocean posed the biggest threat to early lives, and small landmasses were the best solution for the earliest creatures to survive and thrive.
The surface of the oceans is warm and humid. There are no protective barriers to keep the bigger predator fish and sharks out. They can sense the presence of danger and leap into the water to get the food that they need. But they cannot see past the shallow depths where the smaller predatory fish and other life forms live. Without the right filters and protection, the life that lives on the ocean’s surface is gone.
The land surface is even worse. Here, the plants and other vegetation that are meant to survive can rot away due to the relentless pounding of the raindrops and the intense heat of the sun. The plants are also eaten away at by the insects that are there just to steal the fruits and nuts that the plants produce. If there were any kind of a shield or cover to help these tiny creatures escape, then there would be no problem for us here on Earth. But since there isn’t any such thing, we need to learn how to survive in these conditions.
Land Kept the water out!
So the next time you look up at the sky and wonder how the first life on Earth could have possibly survived the conditions that exist under our feet, think about the answer to that question. The only way that any life can survive on this planet is if there is a barrier to keep it out. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to say that there are many mysteries in the universe that we are still trying to unravel. The more we learn about our little corner of the universe, the more we realize that we have a lot of work left to do in order to be able to call ourselves “modern” human beings.