The emergence of the ribosome constituted a pivotal step in the evolution of life. This event happened nearly four billion years ago, and any traces of early stages of ribosome evolution are generally thought to have completely eroded away. Surprisingly, a detailed analysis of the structure of the modern ribosome reveals a concerted and modular scheme of its early evolution.

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We thank L. Brakier-Gingras, A. Mankin, S. Michnick and I. Ponomarenko for advice and comments. This work was supported by a grant from NSERC.

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Correspondence to Sergey V. Steinberg.

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Bokov, K., Steinberg, S. A hierarchical model for evolution of 23S ribosomal RNA. Nature 457, 977–980 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07749

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