Origin & Evolution of Life: November 2006

Robert Hazen, from NAI's Carnegie Institution of Washington Team, published his 2005 Presidential Address to the Mineralogical Society of America in this month's American Mineralogist.

The December 2006 issue of Geobiology is a collection of papers focusing on the history of Earth's biogeochemistry, from the earliest sedimentary rocks in Greenland to the late Proterozoic. The rise of atmospheric oxygen provides a thematic link.

NAI has approved funding for the development of a new, state-of-the-art facility capable of recreating past atmospheric and oceanic conditions, to be called VAL, the Variable Atmospheres Laboratory. Capable of simulating various combinations of oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature, and hydrogen sulfide levels, this facility will be able to test new hypotheses for the cause of some of the Earth's major mass extinction events - such as the Permian and Triassic mass extinctions.

Scientists from NAI's Penn State Team have contributed to a new book entitled "Neoproterozoic Geobiology and Paleobiology," Xiao, Shuhai; Kaufman, Alan J. (Eds.). Their article, entitled "Molecular Timescale of Evolution in the Proterozoic," is one of many sections exploring topics from the rise in complexity of life, to phylogeny and timing of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, the colonization of land by plants and fungi, global glaciations, and "oxygen and the Cambrian explosion."

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B). Organised and edited by Charles Cockell, Sydney Leach and Ian Smith Published August 2006

Speakers: Sean Raymond (University of Colorado) and Avi Mandell (Goddard Space Flight Center) Date/Time: Monday, November 27, 2006 11AM PST

Peter Ward from NAI's Alumni Team at the University of Washington and his collaborators have a new paper out in PNAS providing supportive evidence for Romer's Gap. Their results link this gap in vertebrate terrestrialization with a low atmospheric oxygen interval. This paper supports Ward's new book on the evolution of effective respiratory systems, entitled "Out of Thin Air." [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Join us for the next University of Washington Astrobiology Seminar! David Deamer of U.C. Santa Cruz will be speaking on the topic "Self-assembly Processes in the Prebiotic Environment"