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← Researchers Discover Remnant of an Ancient 'RNA World'

Researchers Discover Remnant of an Ancient 'RNA World' - Comments

kraut's Avatar Comment 1 by kraut

They believe that billions of years ago, single strands of nucleotides that comprise RNA were the first forms of life and carried out some of the complicated cellular functions now done by proteins.

there is a gap in here somewhere...

Thu, 17 Jul 2008 21:54:00 UTC | #202010

lievemebe's Avatar Comment 2 by lievemebe

One more poke in the eye for creationists.

Thu, 17 Jul 2008 21:55:00 UTC | #202011

HitbLade's Avatar Comment 3 by HitbLade

show me each transitional form. each generation. no? well that's proof of god's existence!

Thu, 17 Jul 2008 22:55:00 UTC | #202024

cyberguy's Avatar Comment 4 by cyberguy

"We predicted that there would be an ancient 'RNA city' out there in the jungle, and we went out and found it,'' Breaker said.

What a beautiful example of the scientific method in use, and what a stunning result - which leads to a whole new way of looking at disease.

...a molecule that mimics cyclic di-GMP could be used to disable or disarm bacterial infections such as cholera, he said.

A deep understanding of evolutionary principles lead to this result. Not Religion, and definitely not ID!

Thu, 17 Jul 2008 23:41:00 UTC | #202039

Cluebot's Avatar Comment 5 by Cluebot

Still seems a way off identifying a credible "first replicator," but perhaps another step closer to a detailed biogenesis theory?

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 00:02:00 UTC | #202043

Shane McKee's Avatar Comment 6 by Shane McKee

It's intriguing stuff, but not unexpected at all. In a lot of ways, we still *are* RNA organisms. The "DNA world" is something of an illusion. DNA's just the hard-drive; much of the real work is done by RNA. We've got used to thinking of RNA as a mere intermediate between DNA and proteins, but it is so much more than that, as we're now discovering - most of the cellular metabolism (and even genetics) that we used to think was fundamental is froth on the top. Look deeper, kids :-)

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 00:11:00 UTC | #202045

Goldy's Avatar Comment 7 by Goldy

Seems a good night for gap closure...

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 00:30:00 UTC | #202051

bugaboo's Avatar Comment 8 by bugaboo


You inner (fish) voice. Fantastic!!

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 02:03:00 UTC | #202076

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 9 by Tyler Durden


The sound of that article flying over the head of txpiper, and other YECs!

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 02:28:00 UTC | #202084

Chris Davis's Avatar Comment 10 by Chris Davis

Oh, that's wonderful! Looks as though we're creeping up on abiogenesis. The fossils are still there after all


Fri, 18 Jul 2008 03:11:00 UTC | #202101

someonefree's Avatar Comment 11 by someonefree

No wonder the US is sliding down the development index:

USA #1! oh wait, no, more like 12th for human development and 42nd for life expectancy. Yeay go USA! /sarcasam

[Edit] Ooops I meant to post this on the abortion redefined article, that's what I get for trying to sneak in a comment while at work. :D

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 04:36:00 UTC | #202116

Wosret's Avatar Comment 12 by Wosret

Don't these silly "scientists" know that life can't come from non-life. That is an absolute, immutable, intuitive-truth.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 04:52:00 UTC | #202122

Ishruul's Avatar Comment 13 by Ishruul


More proof that I'm no monkey but a virus!!!

YAY!!! GO, infectious humanity GO!!!!

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 04:58:00 UTC | #202131

GBile's Avatar Comment 14 by GBile

Interesting, very interesting.

The god of the gaps resembles a haircomb by now.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 05:29:00 UTC | #202144

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 15 by gr8hands

Since we already have proven that in ice, chemicals naturally combine to form pre-RNA and RNA . . . this is another nail in the coffin to those saying "life cannot come from non-life." We have all but one of the steps -- going from simply RNA to DNA.

However, that is the easiest of the steps for researchers. ("easiest" being relative, considering the extreme difficulty of this entire field of study)

Sorry to any creationists, but Science to the Rescue!

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 06:54:00 UTC | #202189

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 16 by thewhitepearl

"We predicted that there would be an ancient 'RNA city' out there in the jungle, and we went out and found it,'' Breaker said.

Love that.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 07:42:00 UTC | #202228

edwaltthespisactor's Avatar Comment 17 by edwaltthespisactor

Do they think their pipe is full yet?

Are they done sticking all of the evidence in it?

Are they ever going to accept that they need to smoke away all their IDioting ideas?

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 10:08:00 UTC | #202329

PristinePanda's Avatar Comment 18 by PristinePanda

It's not as if self-transcribing RNA will do anything to convince IDiots of the fallacious nature of their dogmas - scientists could eliminate all gaps and the God meme would still remain prolific in the memeplex.

I'm hoping that the Singularity will allow us to eschew all such religious nonsense.

The concept of abiogenesis is nothing new, of course, but it's nice to see some actual proof of said conjectures.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 10:11:00 UTC | #202332

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 19 by Dr. Strangegod

Over my head. But nonetheless, GO SCIENTISTS!! I can see this sort of research colliding with our Mars ice findings in the next ten or twenty years. Hmm...

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 10:41:00 UTC | #202377

squinky's Avatar Comment 20 by squinky

Very interesting article. Is the RNA world conceivable? Yes. The problem I have with it is that all the heavy lifting is done now by extremely sophisticated enzymes (proteins) that perform functions nearly impossible to imagine how catalytic RNA could do (metabolism, cell wall synthesis, etc) the most difficult are:
How were nucleotides synthetized in the RNA world (ribose and deoxyribose) which are the building blocks of RNA (and DNA)? How was template-directed nucleotide polymerization done (how was RNA "activated" and most importantly, how was 3' vs 2' RNA correctly formed (they can equilibrate) without a ribosome? While I can buy self-replicating RNA kindof, I can't imagine how:
1) It formed in the first place
2) How it acquired chiral, activated precursors
3) How it found more nucleotides to keep going (there are many dead-end reactions, so what)
4) Morph from a simple self-replicating system(and we can't even get these things to self-assemble in the lab) to the first cell that contains RNA and no proteins. Is it alive? Does it metabolize something or use energy? How does this little cell travel to more nutrients when it has no motor proteins?

The RNA world (while there are glimpses of evidence) to me is a placeholder hypothesis of abiogenesis. I have many problems with it.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 10:47:00 UTC | #202386

D'Arcy's Avatar Comment 21 by D'Arcy

Brilliant stuff! The pursuit of knowledge about how the real world works can only be good. Yes, squinky's right loads and loads of things we don't know yet, but then when I was growing up computers took up whole buildings and had little pieces of card with holes punched in to process data.

If this research has medical implications, then hopefully the patent people can't ration the knowledge.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 12:58:00 UTC | #202549

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 22 by Dhamma

Reading this I'm thinking; how much evidence will they(creationists) need in order to accept the reality? Somewhere, there HAS to be a breaking point for them, where they can no longer deny the evolution. I thought that line was crossed a long time ago, but they are quite stubborn bastards!

Or am I just naive to think they'll ever accept the evolution?

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 16:13:00 UTC | #202669

8teist's Avatar Comment 23 by 8teist

"Or am I just naive to think they'll ever accept the evolution? "

Sorry to burst some bubbles ,but this RNA stuff was planted by beelzeebub last week. Back to the lab scientist geezers ,must try harder.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 16:19:00 UTC | #202671

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 24 by Dhamma

That simple, huh :D

And I thought we could give them a fight at least... silly me.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 16:38:00 UTC | #202676

Quine's Avatar Comment 25 by Quine


The problem I have with it is that all the heavy lifting is done now by extremely sophisticated enzymes (proteins) that perform functions nearly impossible to imagine how catalytic RNA could do ...
Yes, that is true, if you want them to do as good a job as is done today. However, if you have an environment in which running reactions very slowly does not mean you get eaten before you can grow up, you can get by on catalytic systems that have very much lower efficiency and specificity. You will grow very slowly, and take a long time to collect the molecules you need to replicate, but as long as your neighbors are in the same situation, what's time to a molecule? Also remember that it need not be pure RNA. T-RNA manipulates an amino acid. Various other RNA and amino acid hybrids could have been doing some of the work that is now done better by proteins. It is exciting to see this kind of new knowledge coming so fast, now.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 16:42:00 UTC | #202678

cyberguy's Avatar Comment 26 by cyberguy

As I see it, this discovery is just one pole marking the route, to let us know we are on the right track.

Sat, 19 Jul 2008 01:05:00 UTC | #202837

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 27 by Steve Zara

Comment #213628 by Dhamma

Or am I just naive to think they'll ever accept the evolution?

Many just will never accept it, ever. I have encountered such people. What they do is deny science altogether, and state that what it produces is an illusion.

What we can achieve is to make such people seem ridiculous, and educate future generations.

Sat, 19 Jul 2008 01:16:00 UTC | #202841

fizhburn's Avatar Comment 28 by fizhburn


I had the same thoughts.

There is some talk of a theory of bio- or abiogenesis. But this has to be strictly incorrect; rather we should see a theory of the ways in which various organic molecules self-organized into more and more complex replicating systems. The gradation between alive and not alive would have some arbitrary border, given to match approximately the folk concept that living things are different in kind from other replicating chemical machines (i.e. that molecules aren't alive, but bacteria, and maybe viruses, are).

Sat, 19 Jul 2008 09:13:00 UTC | #202985

spoo's Avatar Comment 29 by spoo

Articles like these really need some figures/images to try to visualise all these things that can be hard to understand by just reading text :P

On that whole topic, be sure to check out all the video recordings of the HHMI holiday lectures etc!

I've made the habit of watching bits of them each day on the train to/from work :) (Yay for portable video devices!)

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 20:39:00 UTC | #203663

Quine's Avatar Comment 30 by Quine

Hi fizhburn,

Yes, the issue is clouded by what we are used to as "life." Prions are replicating folding patterns, but we don't call them alive. I agree with you that we are going to have to treat it like the Sorites paradox and just decide to draw a line.

However, a big difference happens when it gets to the point of having an isolated coding for genotype as we now see in DNA. This means you can change the plans without having to rip out the load bearing wall that the plans are written on.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 20:53:00 UTC | #203669