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“Our results expand the known metazoan biosphere and demonstrate that deep ecosystems are more complex than previously accepted,” wrote researchers led by biologist Gaetan Borgonie of Belgium’s Ghent University in a June 1 Nature paper. “The ability of multicellular organisms to survive in the subsurface should be considered in the evolution of eukaryotes and the search for life on Mars.”
For the last 20 years, Borgonie has studied roundworms, developing what he calls “a healthy respect for their ability to withstand stress.” Various members of the ubiquitous, 28,000-species-strong phylum can live almost without oxygen, in extremely acidic environments, and despite prolonged starvation. When space shuttle Columbia tragically disintegrated upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere in 2003, roundworms in a canister on its wings survived.
Originally posted by stonebutterfly
There more we learn about Earth, the less we know about Earth.