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Was the primordial soup a hearty pre-protein stew?

The primordial soup that sloshed around billions of years ago and eventually led to first life on our planet might have been teeming with primal precursors of proteins. Ancestors of the first protein molecules, which are key components of all cells, could have been bountiful on pre-life Earth, according to researchers who formed hundreds of possible precursor molecules in the lab. They found that the molecules, called depsipeptides, formed quickly and abundantly under conditions that would have been common on prebiotic Earth and with ingredients that would have likely been plentiful. Some of the depsipeptides evolved into new varieties in just a few days, an ability that eons ago could have accelerated the birth of long molecules, called peptides, that make up proteins.

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