Ecologically speaking, the most hostile environments tend to be the least diverse. But even so, scientists were stunned to find the first single-species ecosystem, trapped in rock fissures three kilometers down in a South African gold mine.
The species — a stick-shaped bacterium — does just fine without air and light. As described on the Canadian science podcast “Quirks and Quarks,” the bug lives in
So what, you say? Well, think of Mars: These bacteria are living proof that it’s possible for organisms to survive — and thrive — in the most radically inhospitable, inorganic environments. And while the surface environments of different planets vary widely, their interiors do not — meaning that Mars or some other planet very likely offers an environment much like that of the South African mine.
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