It is proposed that catalysis by minerals and metal ions had a central role in the steps that led to the origins of life. In particular, the formation of biopolymers in the presence of water requires catalysis to compete with hydrolytic reactions. Catalysis is required to limit the no. of isomers generated so that the longer polymers necessary for the origins of life are formed. Montmorillonite clay catalyzes the formation of 6-14 mers from activated monomers of A, G, U and C in aq. soln. Daily addn. of activated A monomers to a 10 mer primer results in the formation of 40-50 mers of adenylic acid and 30 mers of uridylic acid. The sequence selectivity and regioselectivity in phosphodiester bond formation result from the montmorillonite catalysis. Reaction of D, L-activated monomers of A and U lead to the preferential formation of homochiral dimers. [on SciFinder (R)]