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.