Life uses 20 coded amino acids (CAAs) to construct proteins. This set was likely evolutionarily ‘standardized’ from smaller sets as organisms discovered how to make and encode them. Scientists modeled how the adaptive properties of the CAAs evolved over time. They found that sets containing even only a few CAAs were better than an enormous choice of alternatives, suggesting each time a modern CAA was discovered, it bootstrapped the set to include still more CAAs.
Source: Scientists find biology’s optimal ‘molecular alphabet’ may be preordained: The amino acids, a fundamental set of life’s building blocks, may have been adaptive throughout their evolution, suggesting a possible universal biological language. — ScienceDaily
Researchers have discovered thriving communities of bacteria in Alaskan ‘cryopegs,’ trapped layers of sediment with water so salty that it remains liquid at below-freezing temperatures. The setting may be similar to environments on Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, or other bodies farther from the sun.
Source: Super salty, subzero Arctic water provides peek at possible life on other planets — ScienceDaily
New research identifies a previously overlooked global event which changed the course of the evolution of life in the oceans. It coincided with a rise in calcium carbonate-secreting plankton and their subsequent deposition on the ocean floor.
Source: Evolution of life in the ocean changed 170 million years ago — ScienceDaily
Grinspoon argues that life helping shape Earth means that most planets will either be lush or dead. Maybe. David, find us one that isn’t dead and we promise to get back to you soon.
Source: How life shaped Earth, with a hat tip to Lynn Margulis | Uncommon Descent
If the universe were a radio and the desired setting allows for life, it would have dozens of dials for setting the values of the universal constants.
Source: The Radio at the Edge of the Universe | Evolution News
Researchers have found that the presence of oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere may not be a strong indicator of life: Simulating in the lab the atmospheres of planets beyond the solar system, researchers successfully created both organic compounds and oxygen, absent of life.The findings, published D
Source: Planets with oxygen not necessarily good candidates for ET life? | Uncommon Descent