Mineral Life

Crystalline surfaces of common rock-forming minerals are likely to have played several important roles in life’s geochemical origins. article

Chiral surfaces of these minerals also have been shown to separate left- and right-handed molecules. Thus, mineral surfaces may have contributed centrally to the linked prebiotic problems of containment and organization by promoting the transition from a dilute prebiotic “soup” to highly ordered local domains of key biomolecules.


I was made aware of mineral origins having read the then recent A. G. Cairns-Smith 1982 book describing genetic takeover. A spark was known to make biological molecules but in equal number, left and right handed. But what mechanism could have evolved a preference for one over the other?

From the long list of references we find two decades of publications by Cairns-Smith.

1968. The origin of life and the nature of the primitive gene.

1977. Takeover mechanisms and early biochemical evolution.

1982. Genetic takeover and the mineral origins of life.

1985. Seven clues to the origin of life. The first organisms.

1986. Clay minerals and the origin of life.

1988. The chemistry of materials for artificial Darwinian systems.