Luca be a lady
HUE and Cry never stopped looking for Linda, just as astro-biologists never stopped looking for Luca – the last universal common ancestor and the single source of all life on Earth.
The irony is that Luca was always hiding in plain sight – from the birds in the sky to the fungus in the fields and the fish in the sea. Everything that has ever existed originates from this single microbe which arrived on a young Earth around four billion years ago. I use the term “arrived” with trepidation as there are many competing theories on Luca’s origins – some marvellous, some mad – but it’s the rather beautiful vision of comets riddled with bacteria seeding the universe through planetary impact that has gained most traction in recent years, illustrated above.
So Luca, Earth’s true Eve, was quite possibly an alien, albeit a very tiny one. Now, a surprisingly specific genetic portrait of this great granny of all things has been generated by evolutionary biologists at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Decades of intensive gene research on microbes has now shed considerable light on the mystery of how life first emerged on the planet.
It seems Luca thrived in intensely hot deep sea vents on the magma-drenched, celestial baby Earth. This organism was unlike anything we’ve ever seen, basically a conglomeration of tiny cells that spent hundreds of millions of years freely exchanging genetic material through some early form of osmosis.
It had no gender and, most interestingly, was seemingly immortal. It was life but certainly not as we know it. Death itself did not exist until Luca effectively committed suicide after a billion years of celibacy and invented sex.
Why this eternal organism’s genetics changed so suddenly to pave the way for gender and procreation as a way of exchanging genetic information is still a mystery. Philosophers might suggest Luca sacrificed immortality to evolve a consciousness so it could understand itself. In short, create Perhaps Luca is actually still the one true existence on this planet, more alive than ever before, now looking through the eyes of everything it birthed.
And if that’s true, someone tell Pat Kane to call off the search for Linda. Je suis Linda. You are Linda. Pat himself is Linda. We are all Linda. But her real name is Luca.