July 30, 2009 Leave a comment
July 20, 2009 Leave a comment
Extremophiles challenge everything we thought we knew about the existence of life on Earth. Now, astrobiologists are questioning if some extremophiles are actually aliens living among us.
Extremophiles are organisms that thrive in the most extreme environments on Earth. From the sulphuric hot springs in Yellowstone National Park to the icy Antarctic, these creatures push the limits of what we know about biology, and force us to reevaluate the possibility of extraterrestrial life forms. Scientists are finding an ever-increasing number of these tough little organisms living quite happily in places where we previously believed no life could possibly exist. Extremophiles have even been found nestled in the heart of a nuclear reactor.
The Chernobyl fungus:
Scientists found a dark slime on the walls, living within the reactor and actually feeding on the radiation. The melanin-rich fungus increases rapidly in size when exposed to a high level of gamma rays.
The Pompeii Worm:
This extremophile keeps a cool head even in extreme temperatures. The Pompeii Worm finds a habitat on or near Black Smokers, hydrothermal vents on the sea floor, which give the worm its volcanic name.
Water Bears / Tardigrade:
The Tardigrade is considered the king of the extremophiles. These microscopic organisms look like clear gummi bears come to life. Tardigrades have been discovered all over the world, and in the most amazing places, from the peaks of the Himalayas to the sea floor, from temperatures approaching absolute zero to temperatures over 303° F.