New Theory On Origin Of Life

Luci Baines Johnson is escorted after a burial service for her mother, former first lady Lady Bird Johnson Sunday, July 15, 2007 at the Johnson Family Cemetery in Stonewall, Texas. The widow of former President Lyndon B. Johnson died Wednesday of natural causes. She was 94. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
AP/Pool
A new theory on the origin of life on Earth is giving scientists some reason to rethink Charles Darwin's theory of our beginnings in a primordial soup.

As reported in the British science journal "Nature," two researchers are suggesting that life began – not in some warm puddle full of organic building blocks – but rather in small pores in rocks at the bottom of the ocean.

The rocks, kept warm by underwater thermal vents, acted as the first cell walls for the materials inside, according to Columbia University Paleontologist Dr. Paul Olsen.

"This structure in iron sulphide provided a little cradle, a little envelope, for the basic building blocks of life," Olsen told CBS News Correspondent Melissa McDermott. "That idea of life within a container is what separates this theory from previous theories."

Another aspect about this theory which sets it apart from that of Darwin's, Olsen says, is that it begins with cells with structure, not merely the inner materials of cells.

The theory may yet be proven in the laboratory, Olsen suggests, possibly within the next ten or 12 years. If it is true, then it is only a matter of finding the proper combination of basic materials, structure and heat.