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No. 13: Winter 1981

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The Alien Presence

Hidden behind an obscure technical title is a most curious discovery. I.C. Eperon and his coworkers at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, England, have shown that "human mitochondria did not originate from recognizable relatives of present day organisms." The authors go even further, describing human mitochondria as a "radical departure."

(Eperon, I.C., et al; "Distinctive Sequence of Human Mitochondrial Ribosomal RNA Genes," Nature, 286:460, 1980.)

Comment. The inferences above may be far-reaching. Mitochondria are vital components in the cells of the so-called higher organisms. Apparently possessing their own genetic material, they are suspected of being descendants of an cient bacteria that invaded and took up residence in cells. If human mitochondria are radically different, could changes in mitochondria be the source of the purported wide gap between humans and other animals? Did the mitochondria change ("evolve") in existing ancient mammals, converting them suddenly into humans? Or did a new "species" of mitochondria infect terrestrial cells, perhaps coming to earth on cosmic debris, as Fred Hoyle has suggested?

From Science Frontiers #13, Winter 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987