Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of Life by A. G. Cairns-Smith

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Genetic Takeover is about the origin of life on the Earth. It is a scientific detective story - with clues, deductions and a surprise outcome. Its clues are in the nature of living things; in the chemistry of crystals and molecules; in geochemical and biochemical processes that can be seen now in operation.

One of the preliminary deductions is that those very first organisms on Earth, simple enough to have arisen spontaneously, must have had an altogether different design from any organisms. now. There follows the idea that the component parts of these starter organisms were minute mineral crystals rather than the large organic molecules that are at the base of life now. The startling conclusion is that our first ancestors were literally made of clay.

There was no gradual transformation of clay into DNA: there was a gradual replacement of an old technology by a new. This was the genetic takeover. The book is well illustrated with diagrams and electron microscope photographs. It has a lively style and a clear line that any reader with a general interest in science will follow readily.

Cambridge University Press, 1982.
ISBN: 9780521233125. 477 pp.
Hardcover. Near fine in a near fine jacket.
Minor scuff on front of jacket.