The Search for the Earliest Life

  • Published: 20 November 2017
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    More than 4 billion years ago, the crust of the Earth was still cooling and the oceans were only beginning to form. But in recent years, we’ve started to discover that, even in this hellish environment, life found a way.

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Comments • 533

  • Brett Bryant
    Brett Bryant  1 weeks back

    Isn’t it also possible that the zircon containing the carbon molecule in question came to Earth via asteroid or meteor transport? If that were the case, the carbon-laced zircon isn’t evidence of life on Earth at 4.1BYA but it would make a strong argument for astronomers who contend that we’re not alone in the Universe.

    • MyOther Soul
      MyOther Soul  2 weeks back

      Or maybe there are non-biological processes the have preference for carbon 12?

      • Philip Staudigel
        Philip Staudigel  1 months back

        At 2:50 you say that the 12C/13C ratio is 25% less in organic carbon. The usual notation is in per-mille (‰) and 25‰ is a very reasonable value, percent would be about 10x more than is commonly observed.

        • SamSmith
          SamSmith  2 months back

          So what we've learned is that theres a chance that life exists anywhere that life CAN exist?

          • zhugedai 12
            zhugedai 12  2 months back

            Seriously had a quadruple take with the two jokes in first 30 seconds

            • Socra Tease
              Socra Tease  2 months back

              Talk slower

              • 97glow 97Glow
                97glow 97Glow  3 months back


                • Frankske Verstraeten
                  Frankske Verstraeten  3 months back

                  How could there be life on earth 4,1 billion years ago when earth is only 10,000 years old lol

                  • AddfistYT
                    AddfistYT  3 months back


                    • David Griffiths
                      David Griffiths  3 months back

                      It’s biogenic signature might be the result of intra-crystalline radioactivity that selectively eliminated c13, or by some other abiotic mechanism. Also there is no confidence in a single sample. But it’s a great thought...giant asteroid collisions incorporating hydrothermal life into zircon.

                      • Nick S
                        Nick S  3 months back

                        We need to look for this on mars

                        • Richard Deese
                          Richard Deese  3 months back

                          Thanks! I'm fascinated by the mere idea that, somehow, life processes can differentiate between different isotopes of the same element. That's often not easy, even for human chemists. Nature seems endlessly industrious & inventive in its methods. I'm gonna have to read up on that one. Thanks again! 𝓡𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲 𝓣𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲.

                          • Britton Thompson
                            Britton Thompson  3 months back

                            Why do I keep falling for this over and over again? PBS will give a video an interesting title, but not long after clicking on it, they always turn into the same boring thing with too much scientific minutiae in it

                            • lexzbuddy
                              lexzbuddy  3 months back

                              Stop doing the Goldbloom thing, please.

                              • Ameha K
                                Ameha K  3 months back

                                Q showed Picard when life actually started.

                              • Omree Negri
                                Omree Negri  4 months back

                                It would be amazing if you could do a video on the difference of evolution between animals and plants

                                • Nemo Hoti
                                  Nemo Hoti  4 months back

                                  Viruses in Archeans!!

                                  • John Wheeler
                                    John Wheeler  4 months back

                                    What percent of the earth has been scientifically examined? Such as archaeological, lidar, sonar, etc.... And of that amount that has, what percent of that has been thoroughly excavated or discovered in some way? For instance the Giza plateau has been examined, but more of it has not been discovered than what has been. I'm interested because the general populace tends to think that there's not much of the planet we don't know about, but there's actually a huge deficit in archaeological endeavors that could uncover a lot of things that we only make assumptions about currently (which are commonly accepted as fact), and with very little physical evidence.

                                    • Inspiración Original
                                      Inspiración Original  4 months back

                                      Could that experiment be done in other planets?

                                      • zaubergarden
                                        zaubergarden  4 months back

                                        slow down this video is 10 minutes please

                                        • Tall Marn
                                          Tall Marn  4 months back

                                          u guys are absolutely brilliant. There really isn't anything else I can say.

                                          • Alabamian Mapping
                                            Alabamian Mapping  4 months back

                                            0:52 there is an error, The time when life was big enough to see is the Phanerozoic, much further than the archean.

                                            • George Petersen
                                              George Petersen  4 months back

                                              It just makes sense that the Universe is full of life. But we will never know; but what is so special about Earth? It's in the Habitable Zone and has the right sized Star; and Life finds a way. Ha.

                                              • GregoryTheGr8ster
                                                GregoryTheGr8ster  4 months back

                                                This video should have expounded on the idea of having no eyes to see the life on early Earth. Indeed, these scientists ought to consider whether life could have existed if no one was around to see it. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, we now know that it does not make a sound. Perception is everything.

                                                • Kenny Hagan
                                                  Kenny Hagan  4 months back

                                                  The stuff living near volcanic vents in the trenches would be something worth looking at...

                                                  • Baron of Haste
                                                    Baron of Haste  4 months back

                                                    So this explanation comes in a scientific way, but in a philosophic & theorical way: life is just something that we can't always think of as simple as it is, maybe earth isn't really 4 billion years old, maybe some microbes (or cell like organisms) came to earth in an asteroid, they say that Mars had oceans before Earth had life on it.

                                                    • C P
                                                      C P  4 months back

                                                      Slow down dude

                                                      • PermieWriter
                                                        PermieWriter  4 months back

                                                        Makes me wonder if life may have started even before the moon-creating impact ~4.5 MYA. Can't find anything solid on lunar carbon isotope signature. Interesting to know if bits of Terran life got *two* big boosts.

                                                        • NeoNep
                                                          NeoNep  4 months back

                                                          This made me think about the Fermi paradox. Because if life truly is that old, then it wouldn't really be too far fetched to place life on a lot of other seemingly "too hostile" planets. Maybe life is everywhere, it is just that getting from single-celled organisms to complex life is a bit more, well, complex. Then paired with all the extinctions, maybe "life" in general is really easy to achieve, while complex life requires a whole bunch of luck and a hint of chance.

                                                          • Dr. Wier
                                                            Dr. Wier  4 months back

                                                            So, life began in Australia!

                                                            • -4*
                                                              -4*  4 months back

                                                              Someone explain abiogenesis again i think he left out something

                                                              • Alioth Ancalagon
                                                                Alioth Ancalagon  4 months back

                                                                Damn, life is tough.

                                                                • Jamie Lishbrook
                                                                  Jamie Lishbrook  4 months back

                                                                  I wanna see a vid on how the discovery of iguanodon and megalosaurus started everything.

                                                                  • littlebit
                                                                    littlebit  5 months back

                                                                    I want to know what they have & are finding in Antarctica

                                                                    • William Van Parys
                                                                      William Van Parys  5 months back

                                                                      What is the secret of life??? According to "the hitchhikers' guide to the Galaxy" the, secret of life is 42...

                                                                      • Hiroshi loves You
                                                                        Hiroshi loves You  5 months back


                                                                        • Junjun
                                                                          Junjun  5 months back

                                                                          But why life any way? Why something had to evolve from inanimate material to life?

                                                                          • Shawn Wales
                                                                            Shawn Wales  3 months back

                                                                            Because it did. The difference between non living molecules that can replicate and very simple life isn't as cut and dried as you may think.

                                                                            While no one knows for sure how the transition was made, the fact that we have so much diversity of life from simple to complex shows that it did happen.

                                                                            Unfortunately we have (so far) only one example of this but obviously it could happen elsewhere. Maybe someday we will catch the process as it occurs, and we can study it, who knows?

                                                                        • Layth Adrian
                                                                          Layth Adrian  5 months back

                                                                          The Jeff Goldbloom line shouldn't have been that good, but for some reason it was.

                                                                          • reuireuiop0
                                                                            reuireuiop0  5 months back

                                                                            What about non-biogenic carbon from the Hadean ? Has that ever been Found ?

                                                                            Or does ALL the Carbon from those old age only exist in the ‘biogenic’ ratio. Can it be called biogenic then?

                                                                            I m sure this info exists, but this video sadly omits this essential Point

                                                                            • Luca Junk
                                                                              Luca Junk  5 months back

                                                                              That is one cool shirt dude

                                                                              • Freddy Lubin
                                                                                Freddy Lubin  6 months back

                                                                                How do we know that asteroids crashed on Tuesdays?

                                                                                • mark s
                                                                                  mark s  6 months back

                                                                                  I'm glad Joe Gatto found something else to do, Impractical Jokers wasn't going to last forever

                                                                                  • Thelma Lynne
                                                                                    Thelma Lynne  6 months back

                                                                                    Put a dish of water in the sunlight..Very soon a green cell will grow called Algae and bingo there is life.

                                                                                    • Mia Bo-bee-aah
                                                                                      Mia Bo-bee-aah  6 months back

                                                                                      Imagine still not believing in evolution.
                                                                                      Cant relate.

                                                                                      • Unicorn_F_Arts
                                                                                        Unicorn_F_Arts  6 months back

                                                                                        Just makes me think how short our lives are

                                                                                        • Siddarth Joji
                                                                                          Siddarth Joji  6 months back

                                                                                          Archeology is so complex I can't believe how people discredit all this information.

                                                                                          • Geoff Blankenmeyer
                                                                                            Geoff Blankenmeyer  7 months back

                                                                                            Damn. I thought Mondays were bad. Only to find out Tuesday is asteroid hits Earth day.

                                                                                            • jimmy G
                                                                                              jimmy G  7 months back

                                                                                              Like your my fave your like a normal guy who's just loves to know things and its funny af watching u and like omg your my hero I loves this show ahahha