The depths of the Earth are teeming with mysterious life

This may seem fantastic, but deep beneath our feet is a living world. Look under the soil layer, under layer rocks, and find a hot, bubbling underground world teeming with life, where the biosphere on the surface of the blush with shame. How much life underground is an open question. And him trying to answer 1200 scientists from the Deep Carbon Observatory, probing the Earth’s crust. Ten years later, sensing they seem to have the answer.

This week they announced that observation gave enough data to estimate the number of lives underground. In the underworld is from 15 billion to 23 billion tons of carbon mass. This is equivalent to 385 times the specific gravity of carbon all 7.5 billion people on the surface.

But don’t worry about what the mighty biomass of the underworld can rise up to crush us, the inhabitants of the surface: it consists of tiny microbes and eukaryotes, uniquely adapted to living in these hellish conditions.

Life under the ground

Researchers have found microbes at the depth of 5 km under continents and 10.5 kilometers beneath the ocean surface, hidden in cracks in the rocks. sometimes be just a few microns — thinner than a human hair. Surprisingly, scientists have been able to pull samples from under the ground, to sequence their DNA in the lab and to reveal their metabolic processes. In some cases, the germs and bacteria have adapted to live on hydrogen and carbon dioxide and to maintain themselves for hundreds of years. Other microbes were living in stasis for millions of years and they can be brought back to life in the laboratory.

A new assessment of the common life under the earth’s surface is the answer to one unresolved issue, however, many more waiting in the wings. Microbes under the ground — in a sense, “dark matter”. Like the cosmic dark matter, which can be detected only by its gravitational effects, there are mysterious microbes, which scientists Deep Carbon Observatory can observe through DNA sequencing, but can’t recreate in the lab.

Advertisements