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Int J Mol Sci. 2011;12(6):3445-58. doi: 10.3390/ijms12063445. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Origin of evolution versus origin of life: a shift of paradigm.

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2 Avenue du 11 Novembre 1918, Meudon 92190, France; E-Mail: ; Tel.: +33-6-86-46-60-94.


The question of the primordial ancestor must be approached through the search for the origin of evolution, not through the search for the origin of life. There is a major issue with the concept of life because it is impossible to define, thus is not a scientific but a metaphysical concept. On the contrary, evolution may be defined by as few as three conditions. These do not necessarily involve biopolymers. However, such an approach must give clues to explain the emergence of distinct lineages to allow Darwinian natural selection. A plausible solution exists within an autotrophic lipidic vesicle-based model that is presented. The model requires the existence of hydrothermal sites such as the Lost City Hydrothermal Field leading to specific constraints. For this reason Mars and Europa may be questioned as possible cradles of evolution. If we replace the search for the origin of life by the one for the origin of evolution our priority first is to find a consensus on the minimal conditions that would allow evolution to emerge and persist anywhere in the universe.


heredity; hydrothermal vents; lipidic vesicles; open far-from-equilibrium systems; origin of evolution; origin of life

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