Richard L. Sylvan M.D.
Life started on Earth extremely rapidly after the initial Earth's period of bombardment ended. The extremely short interval suggests that life's origin may not have been on earth or even on Mars. Most discussions of the origin of life discuss the formation of an organic soup and jump to simple unicellular organisms. In reality even the simplest of microorganisms have a variety of systems that are both complex and incredibly stable. Many of these, such as the systems that generate proteins, are conserved in all known living organisms with little variability. There is simply insufficient time on the Earth or even on Mars (with its 1-500,000,000 year head start) to create such systems. In addition there are characteristics in recently discovered life forms that suggest that they retain capacities that are either not usable on earth or were so necessary for survival on earth that the organisms had to arrive with them to survive.
Recent data concerning the variety of materials available in the primordial soup are discussed. Theories and genetic analysis suggesting the nature of earth's first organism(s) (The Last Universal Common Ancestor or LUCA) are presented. Mathematical models that may assist in estimating the amount of time necessary to get from soup to organism are presented, and suggestions as to potential initial origin are put forward. How this effects the treatment and handling of Mars material brought back to Earth as well as means of potential sterilization are considered.