I've often posted here that evolution, if true, only requires a persistent niche, an energy source and something that can serve as 'food' for building material.
This article discusses the first 'animal' discovered that does not rely on aerobic respiration to generate energy (ATP molecules).
Evolution doesn't require the 'easy route', it just requires a route that works.
What I really struggle with in terms of living material developing out of simpler compounds is the issue of chirality. All proteins are either left or right 'handed'. When you make them in a lab you usually end up with an equal number of each termed isomers of each other.
The trouble is life favors only one isomer for some proteins and the other for other proteins. 100% of the time (so far discovered).
True evolution, as far as we know, should have utilized both isomers along the way.
Creationists like to point out that this is a deep flaw in the evolutionary theory and thus favor a creator origin for life. I don't go that far but I can only think of a couple possible reasons for this unique molecular finding in proteins in living systems:
1. All life arose from a single metamorphosis of a collection of chemicals from a precursor vacuole into something that could replicate itself and, thus, all life evolved from this initial single solitary highly unlikely event that didn't repeat over the entire globe.
2. Life, of some sort, arrived on Earth via panspermia and took hold and no original life arose on Earth itself.
Any other ideas out there?
Pesse ( I'm verklempt", "Talk amongst yourselves!) Mist