What Is Chemical Evolution?

The origin of life is still a mystery, but the careful study of chemical evolution is beginning to provide us with possible answers.


Have you ever wondered how life first got started on Earth? So do scientists! Though the question has not yet been fully answered, a careful study of Chemical Evolution is beginning to shed light on this mystery.

In this film you will learn what Chemical Evolution is, how it works, and how it is different from Biological Evolution.

Explore Further

For an overview of research that has been done on fatty-acid membrane formation, check out this paper by Dr. Pierre-Alain Monnard and Stated Clearly’s science advisor Dr. David W. Deamer.
Membrane self-assembly processes: Steps toward the first cellular life

Read about the solubility of fatty acids in warm water. It is this solubility of fatty acids which allows natural selection to sort them out of the mess they are typically produced in during abiotic synthesis.
Solubility of Saturated Fatty Acids in Water at Elevated Temperatures

Learn of the bio-molecules discovered on meteorites. These biomolecules were not produced by living creatures, instead, they were created abiotically in a way similar to how we think the first biomolecules formed on Earth!
The Evolutionary Story Ahead of Biochemistry

Learn of research done by the Center For Chemical Evolution on a possible precursor to modern genes!
Self-Assembling Molecules Offer New Clues on Life’s Possible Origin

Check out what the Center for Chemical Evolution is up to
Center for Chemical Evolution


This animation is the first Stated Clearly video to include 3D graphics. The molecules were created by Jon Perry in a program called PyMOL which is a molecular visualization program commonly used by chemists.

Once the molecules were created, 3D artist Jason Moon used an open source program called Blender to animate them and style them in Stated Clearly fashion.

The rest of the graphics in this animation (those things that are not molecules) were drawn and animated in Adobe Flash by Jon Perry.

A few of the critter illustrations were drawn by Rosemary Mosco at Bird and Moon Comics.


The script was written and narrated by Jon Perry. It was edited by Bret Johnson, Ram Krishnamurthy, David W. Deamer, Nancy Miorelli, Nicholas Hud, and Chris Parsons.

For Teachers

The content of this video meets criteria in the following Disciplinary Core Ideas defined by Next Generation Science Standards. Use our videos to supplement classroom curriculum.


Our videos benefit from guidance and advice provided by experts in science and education. This animation is the result of collaboration between the following scientists, educators, and our team of creatives.

  • Christopher Parsons, MSc
  • David Lynn, PhD
  • David O. Conover, PhD
  • Eric T. Parker, PhD
  • Nancy Miorelli, MSc
  • Nicholas V. Hud, PhD
  • Ram Krishnamurthy, PhD
  • Tom Cochran
  • Jon Perry
  • Jeremiah Deasey
  • Anthony Danzl
  • Rosemary Mosco
  • Tyler Proctor
  • Jason Moon