Sunday, 27 May 2012

Deep-Sea Dive Picks Up Up Extreme-Living Stowaways

Wherever humans go, we seem to carry stowaways with us. This is how fire ants arrived in the southern U.S., how rats traveled to remote islands and how exotic seeds, fungi and insects are showing up in Antarctica.

Now, scientists have found that even the floor of the deep sea, one of the most extreme environments on Earth, is no exception.

After taking the manned submersible vehicle Alvin under the northeastern Pacific Ocean at the Juan de Fuca Ridge, a team of researchers found 38 deep-sea limpets, marine mollusks in the sample they had collected. 

The problem was that the these creatures belonged to a species, Lepetodrilus gordensis, that lives near hydrothermal vents, where hot, mineral-rich waterpours into the ocean. But the site Alvin had just visited had no vents.

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