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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2013 > Apr > Apr 20

'Desert Varnish' & 'Shadow Life'

From: Ray Dickenson <r.dickenson.nul>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2013 14:46:42 +0100
Archived: Sat, 20 Apr 2013 06:14:50 -0400
Subject: 'Desert Varnish' & 'Shadow Life'

Hello List,

Here's some extracts from a piece in the UK's Guardian, titled
Life On Earth Not As We Know It.


[Quotation Begins]

Professor Carol Cleland ...believes desert varnish could be the
manifestation of an alternative, invisible biological world.

"On Earth we may be co-inhabiting with microbial lifeforms that
have a completely different biochemistry from the one shared by
life as we currently know it."


Other astrobiologists have also proposed ideas along these lines.
They include Chris McKay, who is based at Nasa's Ames Research
Centre, California, and Paul Davies, who put forward his vision
of this alternative living zone in a paper in Astrobiology in

These researchers believe life may exist in more than one form
on Earth: standard life =E2=80=93 like ours =E2=80=93 and "weird life", as=

they term the conjectured inhabitants of the shadow biosphere.
"All the micro-organisms we have detected on Earth to date have
had a biology like our own: proteins made up of a maximum of 20
amino acids and a DNA genetic code made out of only four
chemical bases: adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine," says
Cleland. "Yet there are up to 100 amino acids in nature and at
least a dozen bases. These could easily have combined in the
remote past to create lifeforms with a very different
biochemistry to our own. More to the point, some may still exist
in corners of the planet."

Science's failure to date to spot this weird life may seem
puzzling. The natural history of our planet has been
scrupulously studied and analysed by scientists, so how could a
whole new type of life, albeit a microbial one, have been
missed? Cleland has an answer. The methods we use to detect
micro-organisms today are based entirely on our own biochemistry
and are therefore incapable of spotting shadow microbes, she
argues. A sample of weird microbial life would simply not
trigger responses to biochemists' probes and would end up being
thrown out with the rubbish.

That is why unexplained phenomena like desert varnish are

[End Of Quotation]


Ray D

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