Simple systems can reproduce faster than complex ones. So, how can the complexity of life have arisen from simple chemical beginnings? Starting with a simple system of self-replicating fibres, the Otto research group at the University of Groningen have discovered that upon introducing a molecule that attacks the replicators, the more complex structures have an advantage. This system shows the way forward in elucidating how life can originate from lifeless matter. The results were published on 10 March in the journal Angewandte Chemie.