by Staff Writers
Princeton, N.J. (UPI) Jun 2, 2011
Creatures dubbed "worms from hell" have been found at a depth of more than a mile, where it was thought animals could not survive, U.S. researchers say.
The nematodes, or roundworms, were found in gold mines in South Africa, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Researcher Tullis Onstott of Princeton University, working with Gaetan Borgonie of the University of Ghent in Belgium, said the discovery of creatures that far below ground with complete nervous, digestive and reproductive systems, was akin to finding "Moby Dick in Lake Ontario."
"This is telling us something brand new," said Onstott, a pioneer in the study of microbial life known generally as extremophiles living in environments long believed to be uninhabitable.
"For a relatively complex creature like a nematode to penetrate that deep is simply remarkable," he said.
The nematode findings could have important implications for astrobiology, the search for extraterrestrial life, Onstott and Borgonie said.
On Mars, in particular, if life did originate, and if it had sufficient time to go underground deep enough to survive worsening conditions, "then evolution of Martian life might have continued underground," Borgonie said.
"Life on Mars could be more complex than we imagined," Borgonie said.
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New synchrotron technique could see hidden building blocks of life
Paris, France (ESA) May 31, 2011
Scientists from Finland and France have developed a new synchrotron X-ray technique that may revolutionize the chemical analysis of rare materials like meteoric rock samples or fossils. The results have been published on 29 May 2011 in Nature Materials as an advance online publication. Life, as we know it, is based on the chemistry of carbon and oxygen. The three-dimensional distribution o ... read more
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