Life from space? Meteorite which fueled an 'alien origin' hypothesis is to sell

We've already reported on what may be the most visually striking and the most beautiful meteorites in Heritage's June 12 Natural History auction.

However, neither of these is the one which is most interesting to scientists. That honour goes to a large slice of the Murchison meteorite.

Whilst the development of life over the past many millions of years is agreed by the consensus of biological scientists to have been achieved through evolution by natural selection, the beginning of life itself is much more open to debate as little-to-no evidence of that event could possibly have survived.

One idea which has been gaining some credence in recent times is that the earliest biochemical molecules actually formed off the Earth altogether, and were delivered by meteorite. That's where the Murchison meteorite comes in.

Murchison meteorite
The Murchison meteorite -  as close as we can get to Genesis?

Coveted by both scientists and collectors, the last several decades have seen Murchison become among the most researched meteorites - with appearances in scores of scientific abstracts.

As analytic techniques have become more sophisticated in recent years, the complexity and diversity of the organic compounds in Murchison have proved to be far greater than anything imagined. In 2010, Murchison was again in the headlines when an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences announced that 14,000 unique molecular compounds were identified in a small section of a Murchison research specimen.

The study, by a team of nine German scientists led by Dr. Phillipe Schmitt-Kopplin, also determined that many of the organic compounds, components of life on Earth, were already present in the solar system prior to life on Earth - which raises the question whether meteorites may have played a key role in life's origins.

Measuring 107 x 109 x 69 mm (4.25 x 4.25 x 2.75 inches) and weighing 535.9 grams (1.2 pounds), the slice was once a part of the Macovich Collection and comes with a collection of articles. It is estimated at $42,500+ and represents an excellent investment.

Don't worry - it won't actually hatch.

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