Deep below the surface of the ocean, humans are constantly uncovering more about the mysteries of life. Recently, scientists have discovered creatures in the ocean that manage to subsist on very little energy, and are millions of years old.
It is easy to miss ancient forms of life on this planet when they are unseen by the naked eye. If anyone is looking for the fountain of youth, microbes may have the secret.
A Steady Diet Of Almost Nothing
Most of the life forms that humans are acquainted with require sunlight and food to survive. Marine life that occasionally breaks through the surface, or can be viewed when snorkeling is similar to surface dwellers. However, when it comes to the darkest recesses of the ocean, where sunlight is practically non-existent, life takes on complex and fascinating forms.
Possums are not the only creatures on the planet to ‘play dead,’ as microbes living in the Pacific Ocean have been cheating death for 75-million-years. According to scientist James Bradley, it is suspected that these microbes have evolved to burn off an iota of energy to maintain their life.
Compared to a human being which requires 97.2 joules a second, the ancient microbes in the Pacific require only 0.00000000001 joules annually to thrive. Despite the lack of sunlight and food, these microbes have largely gone unnoticed until now.
Searching For Signs Of Life
The discovery of these ancient microbes is huge for science and how humans define life. While many people are on a quest to colonize Mars, determining whether a seemingly inhabitable place can support life is vital. Thanks to the existence of these million-year-old microbes, scientists realize the importance of not ruling out the existence of life forms in a seemingly barren environment.
Why are scientists so obsessed with focusing on microbes when searching for proof of life? Humans have enjoyed rich relationships with microorganisms. Microbes are integral to digesting food, maintaining organ system functions, and live in symbiosis inside and out of our bodies.
Although human beings may carry a sequence of nearly 25,000 genes, microbes are estimated to have 500 times this number. There is still so much that humans do not understand about microbes, how they adapt to environments and the driving factors behind their behavior and existence.
Stardust And Microbes
Humans rely on microbes, bacteria, and fungi more than they may realize. Studying microbes, seeking to understand their unique life cycles and survival methods in inhospitable environments is essential to research. If human beings are to eventually colonize other planets beyond earth, microbes will surely play a role in human’s success or failure.
Discovering forms of life in water have been a critical part of surveying whether humans can one day inhabit a planet. Exploration of Mars has determined that there may have been water on the planet’s surface in the past, but signs of life may be present underground. Getting a better knowledge of the building blocks of life have often hinged on the study of microorganisms.