Space & Innovation

Ocean Volcanoes May Hold Clues To Alien Life

Scientists think studying 'extremophiles' in toxic hydrothermal vents could teach us about potential extraterrestrial life.

On the ocean floor, hydrothermal vents release streams of fluid that can reach more than 400 degrees celsius. They attract all sorts of organisms hoping to enjoy the warmth, and feed off the ample minerals.

The vents are home to a curious range of species collectively dubbed "extremophiles," which are organisms that can thrive in extreme environments, where most life wouldn't have a chance.

They survive thanks to the unique chemical processes called chemosynthesis, wherein bacteria absorb toxic chemicals streaming from the vents and turn it into a food source. This symbiotic process proved that life could exist in extreme conditions without sunlight or oxygen. Scientists think studying these deep-sea earthlings could lead to learning something about potential extra-terrestrials.

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Read More:

NOAA: What is a hydrothermal vent?

LiveScience: Deepest Hydrothermal Vents Teem With Strange Shrimp

Scientific American: Just How Little Do We Know about the Ocean Floor?