By comparing nonfunctional and functional RNA, scientists have uncovered new details about the potential chemical evolution of one of life’s essential molecules. The study could provide new insight into RNA’s role in the origins of life on Earth.

The study, “RNA as an Emergent Entity: An Understanding Gained Through Studying its Nonfunctional Alternatives,” was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the NASA Astrobiology Program under the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution.