b_b: What an awesome find, a crab that "farms" bacteria on its claws and feeds the colony by waving them over the sulfide vents?!?! Hopefully, since deep ocean vents are such isolated ecosystems, we can never destroy them. I get a sense of cam about the environment when I read about them, since the cynic in me tends to focus on how dismal the biodiversity in the world is becoming. I like knowing that there are these strange and wonderful niches that don't know and don't care about, and are largely not dependent on, life on the surface.

Also, as an aside, I think these ecosystems present a good inductive argument for extraterrestrial life, since their staple food source are chemi-autotrophic bacteria that evidence suggests could have evolved independently from the photo-autotrophs that sustain the rest of the world. If life can occur two (or perhaps many) times on one planet, how many time could it have arisen on billions of planets?

posted by fr33lunch: 2534 days ago