back to article Death Star dinosaur aliens could rule galaxy

Rather than dying out in the dimly lit aftermath of a ginormous asteroid impact, dinosaurs on Earth may have instead spread to other planets and built a terrifying space-conquering empire. Organic chemistry expert Prof Ronald Breslow has suggested from new research into DNA that the Jurassic Park monsters may in fact be living …

COMMENTS

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  1. LesC
    Pint

    FTL Velociraptors

    Couldn't you get the dinosaurs to bugger off on big spaceships in SimEarth after you'd achieved nanotech?

    Beer, as the Vogons are coming...

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: FTL Velociraptors

      And a packet of peanuts I trust

      1. Simon Round
        Happy

        Re: FTL Velociraptors

        And don't forget your towel.

  2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    FAIL

    Star Trek Voyager already did this

    And it wasn't their idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Star Trek Voyager already did this

      YOU KNOW IM STARTING TO SERIOUSLY DOUBT THAT MONSTER ALIENS EVEN EXIST WHICH ONE WAS VOYAGER WAS THAT THE ONE THAT HAD BOB DYLAN SINGING THE THEME SONG

    2. User McUser
      Go

      Re: Star Trek Voyager already did this

      Also Dr. McNinja: http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/20p17/

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Why somewhere else?

    Why are some parts of science always looking for ET source for original Organic compounds? They had to start somewhere, so surely the most likely explanation is that the ones we have arose (by whatever mechanism) here. They seem to be anxious to have a "creation myth".

    Also creatures don't "spring forth" from DNA. Unless you are one of those tiny creatures in the ocean or a Bacteria then Sex between Adults is required. Resulting in eggs or live birthed young.

    So both papers seem as likely as Scientology.

    If you think life "evolved" rather than "special creation", why not evolved here from scratch. Also if "life" can do it here, then probably "life" arises EVERYWHERE the conditions are suitable, which is likely not limited to our Terran environment. Or if they claim it came on an Meteor where did it start, or was it always somewhere since the Big Bang (Turtles all the way down).

    Lets have some logic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why somewhere else?

      You must be reading a different article. At no point did I read anything about a creator, creation myth, intelligent design or anything else of a similar vein.

      The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the Universe is nearly 14 billion years old. This means that there was up to 9 billion years for life to evolve elsewhere before the Earth even existed. That is plenty of time for meteor strikes on other worlds to transport genetic materials throughout the Universe. Whether these materials would be enough to seed other worlds is a different matter altogether. The answer as to whether the Earth was seeded with life via meteorites or if it came about independently will depend upon how easily life evolves from the basic building blocks. If it is easy then the odds are that it evolved here independently, If it is difficult then the odds are it was seeded through meteorites bearing the necessary complex amino acids.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Graham Bartlett

        Re: Why somewhere else?

        But if it came from somewhere else, how did *that* get started...? Either it's possible to evolve life from building blocks, or it isn't. If it is, then all the building blocks existed on Earth so there's no particular obstacle. If it isn't, then someone outside the Universe set it up.

        TBH, chirality is just one of the "why on earth is it like that?" evolutionary oddities, like the blind spot in the human retina. I've no argument with people looking for better reasons, but it's a mistake to think that "it just happened that way" is not an equally valid answer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why somewhere else?

          > Either it's possible to evolve life from building blocks, or it isn't. If it is, then all the building blocks existed on Earth so there's no particular obstacle.

          If the chances of it evolving on any particular planet are 1 in ten billion in any given year then the chances are it would not have evolved here. Since there are probably billions of planets out there the chances are it has evolved on at least some of them and then spread from those planets.

          If the chances of it evolving on any particular planet are 1 in a million in any given year then the chances are it will have evolved here.

      3. Joe 35
        FAIL

        Re: Why somewhere else?

        "The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the Universe is nearly 14 billion years old. This means that there was up to 9 billion years for life to evolve elsewhere before the Earth even existed."

        sorry, your maths is wrong because in this case 9 is not the answer, it took billions of years for the elements upon which "life as we know it (Jim)" to be created in early generation stars, and then spread around the universe and then conglomerated to form planets.

        So probably much closer to 3 or 4 billion at most.

        And at fairly low speeds, that material then needs to get to another planet, and then fluke into some situation where the DNA could actually do something - odds for example of a bit of chicken aka dinosaur DNA doing anything are roughly zero. Maybe a bacteria but then, you have to give it another 3 billion years to evolve to dinosaur alien overlord type of life (it took several billion years for life here to spew enough waste product (oxygen) for large life forms to be able to exist.)

        So all in all, not much time at all and certainly not 9 billion years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why somewhere else?

      But you don't have a problem with multicellular organisms springing forth from single celled ones? And asexual reproduction happens in many many complex organisms, up to and including some species of shark. And dropping the right sort of genetic material into just the right soup of acids will cause proteins to form. So I don't quite understand your hostility towards this paper.

      The lizards bit is unlikely I think. But the non-random distribution of chirality in species on Earth is a problem that a extra-terrestrial source of amino acids would explain neatly.

      1. Audrey S. Thackeray

        Dinosaurs all the way down.

        "the non-random distribution of chirality in species on Earth is a problem that a extra-terrestrial source of amino acids would explain neatly."

        I don't understand why "it happened somewhere else and then got delivered here by meteorite" is neater than "it happened here".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

          "I don't understand why "it happened somewhere else and then got delivered here by meteorite" is neater than "it happened here" "

          Because there are tens, hundreds, of thousands of "somewhere else", multiplied by billions of years for every "here"

        2. James Micallef Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

          " I don't understand why "it happened somewhere else and then got delivered here by meteorite" is neater than "it happened here". "

          Because no-one has yet worked out any mechanism or reason why one handedness should be preferred over another, so currently the only solution to the handedness problem is that all (left-handed) life evolved from an extremely tiny set of amino acids / proteins, all of which were left-handed.

          If we are taking this option of equal chances of handedness, if life evolved locally we would expect some life-forms (even past extinct ones) to have right-handed DNA. So either the chances of independent formation are so vanishingly small that all life started locally from a single set of amino acids / proteins that happened to be left-handed, or else life developed equally in left and right-handed versions somewhere else, but Earth got seeded with meteorites containing only left-handed amino acids / proteins.

          Either way we are talking about ridiculously tiny probabilities of a single event from which ALL subsequent life on earth evolved (ie life on Earth is a stupendously rare coincidence)

          On the other hand, maybe the basic assumption baked into the whole argument is wrong, maybe there is a physical / biochemical reason why left-handed amino acids / proteins evolve to life as we know it, and right-handed ones don't, but we don't know of any such mechanism yet. I'd be interested to hear if anyone had any knowledge of any experiment with synthesising right-handed amino acids / proteins and see whether they behave in 'life-like' fashion

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

            It's been done. A number of proteins and peptides have been made with the "unnatural" D-amino acids and shown to behave in an enantiomeric way i.e. only act on mirror image substances. The most spectacular example is probably the HIV protease (original paper in Science only accessible to subscribers).

            The Reg article is rather a misrepresentation of Breslow's paper - the dino bit is a throwaway comment at the very end of the article. The rest actually implies the amino acids are made chiral in space under the influence of circularly polarised light (that theory has been about some while). The only significant flaw I can see is that he proposes transfer of chirality on Earth in a transamination reaction involving copper(II) ions, but as the early Earth atmosphere is supposed to have been reducing, I'm not sure of the availability of copper(II).

            Hara's paper is a careful calculation of the probability of material moving from one solar system to another, but they acknowledge that it is difficult to estimate the likelihood of anything remaining viable during the trip.

            My bet is that life will be almost equally divided between the 2 enantiomeric regimes, but there will be a nagging and unexplained slight excess of one over the other...

            1. Hooksie

              Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

              Good god, someone give this man/woman a job! This is what writing on El Reg used to be like! Thank you my anonymous coward friend for restoring my faith in reasoned and intelligent argument!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

            "Because no-one has yet worked out any mechanism or reason why one handedness should be preferred over another...."

            Because the first complex organism used right handed RNA (DNA not yet being developed), and patented using right handed nucleic acids in life processes, so everybody else used left handed to avoid the patent.

            1. tybalt

              Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

              Doubtful - a half competent patent attorney would advise claims covering both left and right handed chiralities. To do otherwise would be to deny the patentee a fair scope of protection for their invention. Not much point in holding a patent that can easily be designed around.

          3. Hooksie

            Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

            We are still struggling to explain why the universe we live in is mainly made up of matter since equal amounts of matter and anti-matter were created in the big bang (if you believe in that, which I'm sceptical of). Nature, it would seem, prefers to pick a method and stick to it. I also recall seeing an article about how the affects of photons from particular stars can cause amino acids to form in one handedness over another. There will be an explanation, we just haven't found it yet.

            I think, though, that this is yet another BS article from El Reg that takes a reasonable hypothesis and shits all over it with sensational National Enquirer like hyperbole. The man said that it's possible the amino acids on Earth originated elsewhere and it's also possible that DNA from our planet has headed out into the cosmos. He did not suggest in the slightest that dinosaurs built space ships and flew away.

        3. Chet Mannly

          Re: Dinosaurs all the way down.

          "I don't understand why "it happened somewhere else and then got delivered here by meteorite" is neater than "it happened here"."

          I think he was talking about if life forms were found on other planets were "left handed" so to speak genetically like Earth. Far more likely that these building blocks are all over the galaxy than the basic building blocks started here and spread all over the galaxy.

          Obviously its just a thought exercise at this point, if we discover microbes on Mars or something it may shed a bit more light, but right now the evidence we have supports either option.

  4. That Awful Puppy
    Facepalm

    Sounds likely.

    About as likely as me schtooping Monica Bellucci.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Sounds likely.

      Hey Puppy, be more optimistic:

      http://wiki.lspace.org/wiki/Million-to-one_chance

      Which means that it will happen 9 times out of ten!

    2. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Sounds likely.

      How was she?

  5. Jedit
    Headmaster

    "L-shaped amino acids"?

    The L and D aren't used because that's the shape the substance is. They stand for "Laevo" and "Dextro", which respectively mean "left" and "right".

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: "L-shaped amino acids"?

      Why not Sinistro and Dextro?

      (honest question)

      1. Jedit
        Headmaster

        Re: "L-shaped amino acids"?

        Good question. It's because "sinister" and "dexter" refer specifically to the left hand and right hand sides of an object, whereas "laevo" and "dextro" refer to the absolute directions. It's the difference between saying "take the road to your left" and "turn left", if you see what I mean.

        1. Martin Budden

          Re: Good question.

          Is that anything like this...

          I'm standing on a ship facing aft. To my left is the ship's starboard side.

    2. Michael Dunn
      Headmaster

      Re: "L-shaped amino acids"?

      And the "left" and "right" refer, of course, to the rotation of the plane of polarisation of light (Sodium D-line light) passing through a solution of the material.

  6. ratfox Silver badge
    Pint

    Oh, it must be Friday, then?

    Off for a beer!

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Alien

    Nazi Space Raptor will meet you now!

    Even humans have arses too big too comfortably lift up and accelerate to appreciable speed. I do not think Trannysaurus will drop down in a vehicular device soon. And then again, why not meet them? Because lizard races are hollywoodian ungood?

    Anyway, I remember some paper about how the chirality comes about due to [the magic of] galactic magnetic fields working on amino acids buried in comets. So there.

    And on a far planet, we read:

    "Death Star ape aliens could rule galaxy!!- Rather than dying out in the dimly lit aftermath of a ginormous asteroid impact, apes on Earth may have instead spread to other planets and built a terrifying space-conquering empire...."

    1. perlcat
      Coat

      Re: Nazi Space Raptor will meet you now!

      "Trannysaurus"

      I think that they are still with us. Saw a film clip of them in a parade in San Francisco.

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    Question:

    What were these guys smoking?

    I want some

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Question:

      Even if they shared it with us, their weed has an inverse chirality for our brains' receptors.

  9. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Explains nothing

    If they think the predominance of laevo amino acids dextro sugars on earth is suprising then it would be just as suprising for the same thing to happen on another planet. Why would meteor transport favour a particular chirality?

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Explains nothing

      Probably wouldn't - unless it carried a VERY small amount - i.e. just a few molecules.

      Then there is a (reasonable) chance that they'd all be L or D.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Explains nothing

      The odds of generating a meteor with specific chirality are assumed to be better than if it is happening in billions of places across the surface of the planet. If the meteor lands and those bits become the basis of the proteins and sugars for the planets, it is reasonable for the planet to have a homogenous environment.

      All that being said, this is way out on the speculative edge - way way outside science and much more in mythology, except the boffins with all the letters strung behind their names don't like to admit it.

    3. Chet Mannly

      Re: Explains nothing

      According to this article a meteor could transport only left microbes if, like with the asteroid impact on earth, it came from a planet that had already evolved "left based" life.

      But as a starting point on its own, it could of course carry either.

      As side note, How long before Spielberg has T Rex's roaming across Pandora for Jurassic Park 4? In 3D of course...

  10. graeme leggett

    Astrosaurs

    I prefer the idea that most of the dinosaurs left before the extinction event.

    Dinosaurs - in spaaaaace!

    http://www.stevecolebooks.co.uk/series/astrosaurs/books/

    Easier reading than a paper on DNA

    1. Chemist

      Re: Astrosaurs

      "I prefer the idea that most of the dinosaurs left before the extinction event."

      You may prefer it but it is now known that it was the DOLPHINS that left (playfully) before the extinction event

      Cheers Douglas

      1. Tom 13
        Thumb Up

        @Chemist

        and don't forget the mice.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Ben 42
      Happy

      Re: Astrosaurs

      Also Dinosaur Wars

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wasn't this in a star trek voyager episode

    Is this a case of star trek designing the future, again?

    ;)

  12. John P
    Coffee/keyboard

    @Destroy All Monsters - Trannysaurus? You owe me a new keyboard good sir/madam/space-dino!

    Mine's the one with the slightly damp keyboard cloth in the pocket.

    1. perlcat
      Coat

      Ewwwww.

      "the slightly damp keyboard cloth"

  13. annodomini2
    FAIL

    Repeat

    Someone's been watching a Voyager re-run while stoned again haven't you?

    1. Bill Cumming
      Flame

      Re: Repeat

      Actually! everyone who says "Voyager episode : Distant Origin 1997" did it first your FAIL ^_~

      It was the main "reveal" of the final episode of "Space : Above and Beyond" 1995-1996

      Turned out the "Chigs" (aliens bad-guys) were actually descended from either Bacteria and/or Dino's DNA f early earth. It was spread across the galaxy when the Asteroid that killed the Dion's hit earth...

      1. annodomini2
        FAIL

        Re: Repeat

        I never said they did it first

  14. Fintan

    So all it takes is for random DNA to land on any given planet?

    <Quote> the trillion-ton meteorite impact that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago may have blasted off small bits of dinosaur DNA out into space. And quite a lot of those bits of dino-carrying rock will have landed on amenable planets, say the paper's authors</Quote>

    Does this mean that someone bleeds, puts some cells in a jar, takes a dump or whatever, sends it out into space and waits for it to crash onto a planet it will spontanaeously bring forth life?

    To bring this into the realms of being expirementation, what if we drop some road kill on mars. will it :

    a. sit there and be cold forever.

    b. spring forth life?

    Honestly, im curious. it seems a tad oversimplified.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So all it takes is for random DNA to land on any given planet?

      @Fintan: "Does this mean that someone bleeds, puts some cells in a jar, takes a dump or whatever, sends it out into space and waits for it to crash onto a planet it will spontanaeously bring forth life?"

      It's almost a certainty that life has at least visited the other planets in our own solar system - it may have even survived. Some forms of lichen, for example, can survive perfectly well in space (exposed to the vacuum and radiation). Aside from meteors blasting stuff into space, it's possible we've even transmitted something in the equipment we've sent to Mars etc.

      1. RISC OS
        WTF?

        Re: So all it takes is for random DNA to land on any given planet?

        "... Some forms of lichen, for example, can survive perfectly well in space (exposed to the vacuum and radiation). Aside from meteors blasting stuff into space, it's possible we've even transmitted something in the equipment we've sent to Mars etc. ..."

        Yeah but what kind of super touch lichen would survive entering another planets atmosphere on the back of some flamming space rock... surely it would burn up on re-entry?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So all it takes is for random DNA to land on any given planet?

          @RISC OS: "what kind of super touch lichen would survive entering another planets atmosphere on the back of some flamming space rock"

          If something is ejected from the surface of the earth by a huge impact, there's no reason to suppose it is necessarily fixed to a rock. And because there is no friction to slow an object in space, it will travel freely until it's drawn into the gravitational field of a larger body. The relatively low density of something like lichen should allow it to decelerate without igniting and slowly drift to the surface. Huge quantities of dust settle on the earth in this manner. You might also recollect that a rock from Mars was found on Earth, and was initially thought to contain the remains of a living organism. The same process could easily happen in reverse, i.e. from Earth to Mars. But it could always have drifted right out of our solar system too.

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Actually, no.

      The real danger is that the dino-DNA depositing debris reaches an inhabited planet before the terrestrial broadcast of Jurassic Park is successfully decoded and some foolish scientists attempt to clone the DNA. Of course, the back-to-front amino acids that the scientists will no doubt be composed of is likely to give T Rex a bad case of heartburn, but that'll only serve to make him even crankier....

  15. TheOtherHobbes

    And then...

    ...they come back in their UFOs to farm us.

    See also David Icke, etc.

    Actually any space-faring culture would have to be industrial [1], and any industrial culture is going to leave traces that should still be visible - even after 65 million years.

    So probably not then.

    But it's still a good story. :)

    [1] Unless they use magic, obviously.

    1. John Stirling

      Re: And then...

      After 65 million years even the slow tectonic plates are going to have moved a couple of thousand kilometres, and the quick ones double that. That means most of the evidence of an industrial civilisation is going to have been subducted back under the crust.

      Sort of a clean up and start again system - a complete renewal every 100 million years or so.

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: And then...

        "After 65 million years even the slow tectonic plates are going to have moved a couple of thousand kilometres, and the quick ones double that. That means most of the evidence of an industrial civilisation is going to have been subducted back under the crust."

        Aha, the same process by which all evidence of the existence of dinosaurs was destroyed, meaning that we now have no physical evidence they ever existed. No fossilised bones, no fossilised footprints, no tar-pit or amber specimens. In fact, with so little evidence, we never even postulated their existence or invented the word dinosaur!

    2. Matt Piechota

      Re: And then...

      "Actually any space-faring culture would have to be industrial [1], and any industrial culture is going to leave traces that should still be visible - even after 65 million years."

      Duh, the earth was a hunting preserve with a very strict "Leave no trace" policy. :)

  16. Flatpackhamster
    Pirate

    No way could a T-Rex fly a spaceship.

    Their little arms couldn't reach the controls. What a ridiculous idea.

    1. RISC OS
      Happy

      Re: No way could a T-Rex fly a spaceship.

      Tell that to calvin and hobbs

      http://e621.net/post/show/75913

    2. Martin Maloney
      Coat

      Re: No way could a T-Rex fly a spaceship.

      And thus their spaceships would become (I should be ashamed) Tyrannosaurus wrecks?

  17. foo_bar_baz

    Hmm

    Is it deterministic that dinosaurs must evolve first before mammals? Disperse some amino acids to 100 suitable planets, and dinosaurs spring forth in all of them. Kill all dinosaurs, and mammals will take their place?

    What if the planets are suitable for life, but provide different stimuli for evolution? One might favours flying creatures, another could be 95% covered by water. Can't the same amino acids seed totally different kinds of life forms with different appearances, organs and reproductive systems?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The dinosaurs are still with us, you just can't see them. The asteroid impact put them slightly out of phase with us.

    ...best put my tin foil hat back on...

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Yes they are, all birds are directly descended from dinosaurs and they have not really changed a lot. Don't forget that the majority of dinosaurs were not 20 foot monsters but small beasties occupying the same ecological niches that small mammals occupy today.

    2. Lupus

      Is that a plumber's tinfoil hat?

  19. Thoguht Silver badge

    Extinction Level Events

    OK, so if the dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out they might still rule the Earth. But mass extinctions happened quite regularly, so surely the dinosaurs themselves only got a look in because the previous apex species (amphibians?) got eliminated. Perhaps the galaxy is really run by newts and axolotls...

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Extinction Level Events

      You've seen our Cabinet I trust?

  20. System 10 from Navarone
    FAIL

    super-dinosaurs with iPads

    If they have iPads, they will NOT be super-dinosaurs

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Why not want to meet one?

    Saying that you wouldn't want to meet a space wanderin' dino is so reptilist.

    Just because they had big teeth and claws, it doesn't mean they haven't found peace and a desire to get on with other life forms.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    homochirality

    look out for the tea party types confused condemnation of gay dinosours!

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: homochirality

      As they're also likely to be creationists, their response might be particularly interesting, when it come to dinosaur extinction....

  23. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    D or L amino acids

    In an equilibrium situation, both forms would be equally stable. The process called racemisation would turn an all-D or all-L starting point into a mixture of 50% each.

    But the living cell is not an equilibrium situation: it is what my physics lecturers called a dissipative system. This may be in a steady state, but relies on a more or less steady flow of energy.

    Within a dissipative system it is possible to imagine that an imbalance, which started at random, could be magnified until it was totally one-sided.

    Biochemistry textbooks explain how the complex molecules of life have to be consistently D or L so that they end up in consistent shapes. As examples, this is needed by enzymes; and is needed to get a backbone for DNA.

    There are some questions which arise from this comment.

    1. Could a steady state dissipative system be set up in a laboratory to synthesise lactic acid or some similar biochemical as one stereoisomer?

    2. If so, would its output be random, or is there some subtle effect which would produce always one stereoisomer?

    3. Could a whole living cell work with the opposite stereochemistry to what we find in nature?

  24. CAPS LOCK Silver badge
    Happy

    "The dinosaurs are still with us, you just can't see them". You can. The sky if full of the blighters.

  25. perlcat
    Coat

    Relying on monsters from outer space to make your theory work:

    So old school.

    The "we're all left-handed" because of a single seeding event from a source that contains an even distribution requires something much like a limited gene pool to work. In order to have an ecosystem develop an almost exclusive distribution of one type from a starting source that has an even distribution requires a VERY small sample, as with a 50% distribution, every additional lichen/bacteria has a chance of being the wrong type. I have never been able to have more than a few coins turn up the same way in successive coin tosses. That's the nature of 50/50 odds.

    In other words, the only way this theory would work is if one meteorite with less than a dozen bacterium/whatever started the whole thing. With a starting sample that small, it is about indistinguishable from having originated on its own from one happy left-handed start via lightning strike in a bowl of primordial soup.

    If external seeding is a factor, and seeding would actually work so easily (one thing to plant, and entirely another to harvest...), and life in the universe has an equal chance of originating in either handedness, then seeded planets most likely would have a distribution of both types, a billion years being a short time for the living species we're able to comprehend, the universe being that big, and time in a geological/astronomic sense being an entirely different thing and all.

    I'd think that a greater rarity of life-origination events and some functional benefit from leftedness makes a far more likely explanation. Seeding events where right-handed seeds are destroyed in transit/atmospheric entry would also fit the model, and I should wonder if seeding, handedness, and origination are not three different things -- seeding may be simple 'cross pollination' that drives a more rapid evolutionary cycle using compatible seeds, and the mechanism preferring handedness being as yet unexplained.

    Its God's sinister plot to populate the universe, I tell ya!

    Yeah, I know. IGMC.

  26. Johnny Canuck

    May I be the first

    to welcome our returning techno- dinosaur overlords.

  27. Alan Brown Silver badge
    Devil

    May I be the first

    To invite one of our remaining dino descendants for dinner.....

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The article leaves me with one question...

    Did someone recently discover and watched V or something ?

    Now, while his theory seems plausible to me (if DNA has landed here then in theory a big meteor strike could have left our planet also) he assumes that the dna strands actually survived in space as well as found a planet which met all the right characteristics to develop.

    However, during that incident we were already well on our way in the evolution process. These "earth-founded lizard aliens" would have to start all over from scratch. Thus even the idea that these strands may - at this time - have evolved into a space traveling society seems a bit far fetched to me.

  29. Local Group
    Meh

    There is only one conclusion

    Dinosaur ex machina

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DNA of the living dead?

    If life can burst forth from DNA on a suitable planet, then why didn't the dinosaurs re-generate from all their DNA that was splattered around on Earth instead of just, err, ... well dying out, really. Similarly, I haven't noticed even the slightest tendency for dodos or mammoths to spring back into existence.

    As for the chirality of life's chemicals, I've always seen it as just a case of spontaneous symmetry breaking. It's advantageous for all life to use the same system - so you can eat things easily (food chains being a pretty fundamental feature of Earth-based life). Therefore edible living stuff has to be all left, or all right. The choice is down to chance.

  31. Uncle Siggy
    Thumb Up

    'dile Rockin'

    I for one welcome our reptilian overlords.

  32. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Alien

    Dinosaurs in flying saucers??

    AWESOME!!! The only thing that would be cooler is Dinosaurs in X-Wings.....

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Dinosaurs in flying saucers??

      But on the horizon surrounding the shoppers

      Came the deafening roar of chickens in choppers

  33. Jim Birch
    Coffee/keyboard

    Dinosaurs, but nice

    The success of humans is dependent on the ability to cooperate. Sophisticated technology requires many hands and minds to work together with a reduced tendency to exploit, threaten, kill and/or eat their neighbors. Of course, it's an ongoing battle between exploiting your fellows as resources or partnering up to get the big stuff done because the many biological payoffs are with the exploit and cheat strategy.

    In the end, it's the dinosaurs/newts/whatever that have evolved the cooperation genes along with brains that will be able to build spaceships. I doubt they'll think we are just a new type of breakfast.

  34. Rambo 1

    Posleen?

    I love John Ringo SicFi novels too but I don't take them this seriously. Heck, we haven't even found the Higgs Boson particle yet! Anybody who has read these novels knows that is when the wheels come off this thing.

  35. Arclight

    WIlliam Hill

    I've noticed a lot people throwing around probability as reason why life would have ET origins, speaking from the perspective of a true layman surely the probability of:

    Life starts on Melmac (Which is a billion in 1 event as someone else has already used as an arguement against earth origin)

    Melmac has massive catastophic event

    Small chunks fly into space and with a few bits of Alf strapped on

    Tiny bits of Alf manage to survive the millions of years flying through space

    Tiny Alf rock manages to manages to find its way to earth (space is really big. You may think its a long way to the shops, but thats just peanuts to space (DA))

    Alf manages to survive the intense heat of entering the earths atmosphere

    Each one of those steps has a massive probability of failure, surely probability actually favours life starting here?

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: WIlliam Hill

      That depends on the nature of the first self-replicating molecular assembly that gets chemistry started towards life. It certainly wasn't DNA or RNA or life as we know it. It almost certainly doesn't exist any more on this planet, because life as we do know it would eat it or disrupt it.

      Some speculate it was a clay-like mineral. If so, it might be remarkably tolerant of interstellar radiation and re-entry. Panspermia is a perfectly respectable theory. However, it's all complete speculation. We have no data to prove or disprove it with.

  36. Martin Yirrell

    Bonkers

    What else is there to say?

  37. <a|a>=1
    Linux

    DNA Damage

    Life on earth might have been originated on Mars but cosmic radiation would destroy the DNA in the millions of years it would take for a rock to travel between solar systems.

  38. Andy Fletcher

    Intelligence

    It hasn't actually been shown to be all that useful. Our dinosaurs never bothered with it and their time on the planet eclipses ours into insignificance. I can buy that life may be inevitable given the right mix of elements and conditions, but I don't buy that intelligence is an inevitable byproduct. There's just so little intelligence around as it is.

    1. Nigel 11
      Thumb Down

      Re: Intelligence

      You're generalizing from one datum (and the experiment hasn't been running long enough to give any confidence in predicting the long-term outcome). Maybe intelligence always self-destructs (one solution to the Fermi paradox), and maybe it doesn't. Unknown at present.

      If you take a wider definition of intelligence, one can observe that the invertebrates have evolved intelligence up to at least the level of a cat, completely independantly of our branch of the tree of life. (Octopuses, if you were wondering). They've also been observed using tools.

  39. Nigel 11
    Boffin

    Chirality and symmetry breaking

    There's no mystery at the chemical level. L-amino acids form polymers (proteins) with other L-amino acids, and D-amino acids with other D-amino acids. These chains then fold up into spirals and sheets. Spontaneous bonding between L- and D- amino-acids is chemically unfavorable, because the molecules don't fit together properly.

    So, if the first self-replicator was L-based, that would have fixed life (or pre-life) on the L-form, and soon the D-acids in the environment were reprocessed by it/them into small non-chiral molecules (i.e. used as food). Once the L-basis of life was established, it could never change. L-based life can't assemble things out of D-bases, but it can and does use them as fuel when they arise spontaneously.

    The deep question is why was the first self-replicator to use amino-acid polymers based on the L-form? The answer may be that symmetry was broken at random. The pencil balanced on its point had to fall one way or the other. If so, and if we can ever find any other life to study, there's a 50% chance it'll be based on D-amino acids.

    However, there's a much deeper broken symmetry that is itself chiral. The weak nuclear force. Because of this, the binding energy of L-amino acids is very slightly greater than that of D-amino acids. In a mixture formed by inorganic chemistry from achiral precursor molecules, there will be about 100 more L-molecules per mole than D (i.e. 1 part in 6.10^21). Was this enough to tip the balance? Is L-based life universal, thanks to a physical symmetry that broke almost immediately after the big bang itself? Can we ever know?

    Back to trivia. In a few cases some living organisms manufacture an L- molecule and others the same molecule in D-form. What's the difference between lemon flavour and lime flavour? One is L-, the other is D-limonene! Why is 7-up "Limon" flavoured? Because in a chemistry lab, it's far easier to cook up a racemic (50/50) mixture, and that's what your fizzy water is flavoured with.

  40. stuartnz
    Thumb Down

    The real problem with the coverage of this piece

    Was, I think, quite well highlighted in this response

    http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/04/alt-text-science-sensationalism/

    It makes me wonder whether next month's issue will include a fairy cake recipe for those who want to build a Total Perspective Vortex in their backyard.

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