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Extremophiles are living organisms that can thrive in environmental conditions that are inhospitable to most lifeforms. These species may be animals, plants or bacteria; the unusual conditions in which they may persist can involve extreme salinity, acidity, temperature, radiation or pressure. Such occurrences may take place in such unusual climate regimes as Antarctica, or in such unusual geographic features as hypersaline lakes.

They may also be found at extreme ocean depths where high pressures and unusual chemical environments, such as near hydrothermal ocean vents, are encountered. The image to the right shows tubeworms found near such hydrothermal vents.

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Etosha Pan halophytics Last Updated on 2014-04-12 21:03:57 The Etosha Pan Halophytics ecoregion is the relict landform of an expansive, inland Pliocene lake. Today, the Etosha Pan is an arid, saline desert. Normally, the intensively cracked, whitish clay is split into hexagonal salt-encrusted fragments, and wildlife is sustained only by scattered freshwater springs, which manifest as watering holes. These springs attract a diverse array of large mammals, especially during the dry season, making Etosha Pan a popular tourist destination. In unusually wet years, when the Ekuma, Oshigambo and Omuramba Ovambo Rivers receive sufficient rainfall, the pan is temporarily ttransformed into a shallow lake. The Etosha Pan is situated within the Etosha National Park in northern Namibia around 16 °E longitude and 19 °S latitude. The pan is located on the interior plain of Ovamboland. Elevation ranges from 1071 metres (m) to 1086 m above mean... More »
Atacama Desert Last Updated on 2013-10-29 21:15:01 The Atacama Desert is an irregular elongated strip of desert along the northwest coast of Chile, essentially bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west. It extends nearly 1600 kilometres (km) and reaches a maximum width of 180 km. In many areas rainfall has never been recorded, and the Atacama is considered one of the driest deserts in the world. Consequently, an extremely arid, almost barren, landscape predominates. Despite the aridity of this desert, some cacti (Eulychnia), perennials (Nolana), and mesquite (Prosopis) occur in basins where occasional water accumulation occurs. Relatively few animal species have adapted to this arid environment and therefore, faunal diversity and density is extremely low. Even bacteria are scarce, and in many portions of the desert insects and fungi are absent. The intrinsic value of the Atacama Desert's plant and animal communities lies in the... More »
Bacteria Last Updated on 2013-07-12 03:45:42 Bacteria are any of a very large group of single-celled microorganisms that display a wide range of metabolic types, geometric shapes and environmental habitats—and niches—of occurrence.  Normally only several micrometers in length, bacteria assume the form of  spheres, rods, spirals and other shapes. Bacteria are found in a very broad gamut of habitats; for example, bacterial extremophiles that thrive in such places as hot springs, arctic environments, radioactive waste, deep sea oil seeps, deep Earth crustal environments, hypersaline ponds and within other living organisms. There are approximately 50 million bacterial organisms in a single gram of typical surface soil. The worldwide bacterial biomass exceeds that of all plants and animals on Earth. However, the majority of bacteria have not yet been characterised, Bacteria are members of the prokaryote... More »
Microbial life in undersea volcanoes Last Updated on 2013-07-11 11:30:13 Many of the lifeforms inhabiting the Earth live in sediments and rocks. The research reported here provides the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. Scientists Define New Limits of Microbial Life in Undersea Volcanoes A third of Earth's organisms live in rocks and sediments, but their lives have been a mystery By some estimates, a third of Earth's organisms live in our planet's rocks and sediments, yet their lives are almost a complete mystery. This week, the work of microbiologist James Holden of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and colleagues shines a light into this dark world. In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they report the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. "Evidence has... More »
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