Scientists discover new organic compounds that could have helped form the first cells

Chemists studying how life started often focus on biopolymers like peptides and nucleic acids, but modern biopolymers don’t form easily without help from living organisms. A possible solution to this paradox is that life started using different components, and many non-biological chemicals were likely abundant in the environment. A new survey of a diverse set of such compounds under primitive environmental conditions found many of these easily formed polymers and some spontaneously formed cell-like structures.