May Meeting

Saturday, May 14, 7 p.m.
Avonport, 475 Bluff Road

Speaker: Laura McLarnon

Topic: Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents and the Origin of Life

Summary: The discovery of deep sea hydrothermal vents in 1977 changed the perspective of the requirements for life on Earth. No fauna was thought to exist within the dark abyss of the ocean. In the 40 years since this discovery a better understanding of the types of vents and their ecological niches have allowed scientist to propose DSHV as a possible location for the synthesis of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. I will discuss the chemical environment present at White Smokers and how those conditions mimic the primordial conditions on Earth. I will then discuss the evolution of life from primitive bacteria / archea synthesizing chemicals leaching from the Black Smokers to complex multicellular organisms. I will show parallels between the evolution of the Tree of Life and the evolution of complexity at the vents.

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