The process by which living organisms developed from inanimate matter, which is generally thought to have occurred on earth between 3500 and 4000 million years ago. It is supposed that the primordial atmosphere was like a chemical soup containing all the basic constituents of organic matter: ammonia, methane, hydrogen, and water vapour. These underwent a process of chemical evolution using energy from the sun and electric storms to combine into ever more complex molecules, such as amino acids, proteins, and vitamins. Eventually self-replicating nucleic acids, the basis of all life, could have developed. The very first organisms may have consisted of such molecules bounded by a simple membrane. See proteinoid.
Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.