Science

Scientists discover vast underground ecosystem of ‘deep life’ microbes

Deep life studies have revealed a rich subterranean ecosystem within the Earth almost twice the size of the world’s oceans. 

U.S (Next Media) – Deep life studies have revealed a rich subterranean ecosystem within the Earth almost twice the size of the world’s oceans.

The Guardian reports that Deep Carbon Observatory scientists made boreholes over 5 kilometers deep, and drilled 2.5 kilometers below the seabed to find an underground biosphere containing ‘deep life’ microbes that may have persisted for thousands or millions of years.

These previously unknown lifeforms thrived despite extreme temperature and pressure. They reportedly fed on energy from rocks, and existed in a slow-motion, zombie-like state.

The results suggest that 70% of the Earth’s bacteria and archaea exist underground, amounting to between 15 and 23 million tonnes of carbon.

Among them are barbed Altiarchaealis that live in sulphuric springs and Geogemma barossii, a single-celled organism found in hydrothermal vents on the seafloor, whose cells grow and replicate at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Researchers have been trying to determine the boundary where life cannot exist, but the deeper they dig, the more life they find.

Though there is a temperature maximum set at 251 degrees Fahrenheit, scientists think further exploration using more sophisticated instruments might break that record.

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