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Proceedings Paper

Hydrocarbon crystals as protoorganisms and biological systems predescessors
Author(s): Nikolai P. Yushkin
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Paper Abstract

The world of minerals, characterized by 3D infinite periodic distribution of atoms, coexists in nature with the world of structurally ordered hydrocarbons, which posses may features making them structurally similar to simplest organisms. In spite of the fact, that study of supermolecular ordering in solid hydrocarbons is at its dawn, nonbiogenic hydrocarbon organism-like forms have been found in many earthly and space objects.One prominent example is fibrous kerite crystal from crystallization voids in pegmatites. Kerite crystals show fibrous and cylindrical habits, frequently with spheres at the ends and an internal axial channel. Spiral-like individuals twisted in one direction as well as complex regeneration aggregates are frequently observed. Fibrous kerite crystal have elemental composition nearly identical to that of protein. They contain all chemical elements typical of the living matter and all elements- catalysts. Heating the crystals in the range from 20 to 600 degrees C resulted in release of a variety of hydrocarbon gases to the inner channels and environment. The crystals are distinguished by anomalously high contents of all 'protein' amino acids, which are synthesized from abiogenic components during crystallization. Protein self-assembly and evolution of some organismic functions described as biological ones are possible. We relied on fibrous kerite crystals to develop a model of a protobiological organism, genetic predecessor of biological life forms and propose a concept of hydrocarbon crystallization of life.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 July 1998
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 3441, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology, (6 July 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.319842
Show Author Affiliations
Nikolai P. Yushkin, Institute of Geology (Russia)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3441:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology
Richard B. Hoover, Editor(s)

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