Looking into the night sky, it seems impossible to survive on distant planets with a rough atmosphere and bleak landscapes. But every year scientists discover unique life forms in one of the most inhospitable environments on earth. These discoveries make alien life possible, even in our own solar system. These are five of the most bizarre places where life was discovered.
50,000 year old microbes Crystal Cave Naica, Mexico . In 2008 and 2009, scientists discovered the sleeping microbes, which are trapped in huge crystals. They have "woken up" the genetically unique forms of life in cultures. It is not the first time that scientists have revived sleeping organisms thousands of years ago. In the past, scientists claimed to revive the lives of Jurassic Park-style ice, salt, and even amber millions of years ago. The microbes from the Naica cave feed, among other things, on iron and sulfur, which are widespread in the crystal forms. ( x )
Chemolithotrophs Lake Willhans, Antarctica . Scientists drilled a hole in the Antarctic ice for a whole day before they reached the hidden lake under the ice. They added dyes that light up the DNA and watched the lake light up. The organisms they found survive on chemical compounds that are abundant even in this harsh environment, such as iron and sulfur. The discovery of this bizarre life form is almost as strange as the actual life form. Organisms that live on the ocean floor cannot be choosy about food sources. Some were able to survive for months or even years without a meal. Scientists were curious about what the dark would do if they were offered an unknown source of food. So they threw freshwater alligator carcasses on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The result? They ate scavengers. When only the skeleton was left of the alligators, the scientists noticed that brown fluff was growing on the bones. The fluff was found to be many tiny bone-eating worms that consumed the last remaining parts of the alligator. ( x )
Electricity-eating microbes Black Hills in South Dakota . Two scientists examined old rust water from an abandoned gold mine in South Dakota in search of life. They discovered microbes that consume electrons through direct electron transfer. Instead of eating organic matter for energy, they transmit electrons through their membranes. These discoveries show how life on other planets can exist on their surface without organic matter. Even on Mars, iron-rich water flows beneath the surface. A potential environment in which such microbes could live. ( x )
Threadworms TauTona Mines, South Africa . Nematodes are robust animals that thrive in various conditions from Antarctica to the human body. Over two miles below the surface, scientists discovered a new species of worm in gold mines, which are up to 118 euros high, that lives in the water at an estimated age of 3,000 to 12,000 years. The worm lives on chains of bacteria called biofilm that cover the surfaces of the rocks in the mine. They are adapted to the dark, hot conditions in the underground. These worms can be the deepest living creatures on earth. ( x )
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