Cairns-Smith, Alexander Graham (1931–)
Scottish chemist at the University of Glasgow who, in 1982, proposed a radically
new theory of the origin of life on Earth1
in which the first organisms were derived from clay.
In his view, mineral life-forms, evolved from complex prebiotic
clay crystals, and needing neither a reducing atmosphere nor a primordial
soup, were the earliest inhabitants of the planet. Subsequently, a "genetic
takeover" by organic molecules led to the carbon-based life which exists
today. Although given serious consideration by biochemists, Cairns-Smith's
theory has not achieved wide acceptance.
- Cairns-Smith, A. G. Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of
Life. New York: Cambridge University Press (1982).
AND EVOLUTION OF LIFE