June 4, 2006
Revelation: All Life Evolved From Bacteria
Warning: I am not a biologist.
I read a story a couple of days on Yahoo News: "Gene Expert Says We Are Not Entirely Human", and in that article it goes on to say that "We are somehow like an amalgam, a mix of bacteria and human cells. There are some estimates that say 90 percent of the cells on our body are actually bacteria," Steven Gill, a molecular biologist formerly at TIGR and now at the State University of New York in Buffalo, said in a telephone interview.
This article got me wondering. It basically says that not only humans can not live without bacteria, but all life forms can't live without bacteria.
The wheels in my puny brain started to turn. If this is true and since bacteria can live without us, bacteria must have been the first life on our planet. Then I found out that lots of people know this most likely true. It is assumed in this 1996 article : "In the first two billion years of life on Earth, bacteria - the only inhabitants - continuously transformed the planet's surface and atmosphere and invented all life's essential, miniaturized chemical systems." Abiogenesis is explained here, but the explanation makes me feel intellectual inferior.
The fossil record for bacteria goes back at least 3.5 billion years. "The first inhabitants of Earth did not need oxygen to breath, in fact oxygen was toxic to them, and this gas was rare in the atmosphere in those days. However the cyanobacteria that inhabited Earth in the Precambrium produced oxygen as a waste gas and so helped establish an aerobic ecosystem."
And this is how evolution works: "bacteria routinely transfer their genes to bacteria very different from themselves. The receiving bacterium can use the visiting, accessory DNA (the cell's genetic material) to perform functions that its own genes cannot mandate. Bacteria can exchange genes quickly and reversibly. Unlike other life forms, all the world's bacteria have access to a single gene pool and hence to the chemical prowess of the entire bacterial kingdom." Here is more on this.
OK, I read all this stuff, some sunk in, and some concepts went whoosh over my head.
Then I read another piece of news this morning: "Ontario Rock Reveals Earth's Earliest Life Form."
This is another missing link discovery. A 2.45 billion year old fossil would expect to be of a primitive bacteria, but instead "higher-order organisms in which each cell has a brain-like nucleus directing its growth and reproduction" were found.
Just as I was finishing off my "research" for this piece, I found this article, to store in my "Wow I didn't know this" section of my brain. Many bacteria have evolved eyespots that allow them to distinguish between food and other stuff.
Now, this leads me to a theistic question. If God created us in his image, is God bacteria? I still can't get over the fact that believers think that man was created in God's image. What about the butt? Does God have a butt? Does he use it the same way we use it? He obviously couldn't come up with a way for humans to go around without defecating every once in a while. This must mean God too defecates. And this has to mean that heaven has toilets. I wonder if they are unisex or if there are long line ups. Maybe a Fundy can tackle these questions.