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Oxygen-Free Animals Discovered

Posted by Andrew at 9:43 AM on April 8, 2010

The BBC reports that the a team of scientists from Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy have found three new species of tiny creatures living over 2 miles down in the Mediterranean Sea.  It’s so deep and dark there’s almost no oxygen whatsoever and although only 1mm in size, this is the first time that anything other than bacteria have been found in such places.

Although it wasn’t possible to bring the creatures to the surface alive, eggs from them have been successfully hatched in an oxygen-free environment.  The leader of the team admits that it’s a complete mystery as to how these creatures survive and more research will be needed.  It’s likely that there’s some kind of animal-microbe relationship but it’s otherwise unclear.

I find this story interesting on two levels.  The first is that we’re still making discoveries about the world around us simply by looking.  For sure this was far down in the ocean but it’s not really far down – the Marianas trench is about 7 miles deep.  Secondly, the implications for different forms of life on both this planet and others is significant, given that multi-cellular life without oxygen now appears to be possible.

Every day’s a new adventure…

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