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Imagine That! - Hydrothermal Vents #2

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! - Hydrothermal Vents #2

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

The Lost City has been found! But humans weren't the first to discover it... a whole colony of organisms have been calling it home for eons.

Imagine That!

The Lost City is a hydrothermal vent system located on the Atlantic floor... a place you'd assume to be pretty frigid, right? Well, here, the vent temps reach up to three hundred and thirty eight degrees. Not chilly at all...

But the coolest thing about these hot, hot vents is that they house tiny microorganisms. And not only do the little guys thrive in unbelievably high temps, and in the absence of any sunlight, but they also adapted their metabolism to survive on the unique materials available in those vents. In fact, researchers believe the vents might have housed the Earth's first life.

Kelley: "There's really profound discoveries to still be made on our own planet... There's estimates that we only know about 1% of the life that lives on the sea floor."

That's oceanographer Deborah Kelley at the University of Washington. Her work on this project shows that there are a lot of cool discoveries left to be made in some hot... and not so hot... spots!

Because these vents get their heat from serpentinization, not proximity to volcanic activity, chances are there are a lot more of them out there. And probably a lot more of their intense microbial life. So get your microscopes out. The hunt is just beginning! I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at nsf.gov.

 
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