Saturday, January 25, 2014
Life is only known to exist on the planet Earth.(cf Astrobiology) The origin of life on Earth is not well understood, but it is known to have occurred at least 3.5 billion years ago, during the hadean or archean eons on a primordial Earth that had a substantially different environment than is found at present.These life forms possessed the basic traits of self-replication and inheritable traits. Once life had appeared, the process of evolution by natural selection resulted in the development of ever-more diverse life forms. Species that were unable to adapt to the changing environment and competition from other life forms became extinct. However, the fossil record retains evidence of many of these older species. Current fossil and DNA evidence shows that all existing species can trace a continual ancestry back to the first primitive life forms. The advent of photosynthesis in very basic forms of plant life worldwide allowed the sun's energy to be harvested to create conditions allowing for more complex life. The resultant oxygen accumulated in the atmosphere and gave rise to the ozone layer. The incorporation of smaller cells within larger ones resulted in the development of yet more complex cells called eukaryotes. Cells within colonies became increasingly specialized, resulting in true multicellular organisms. With the ozone layer absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation, life colonized the surface of Earth.