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Sleestaks live in the Lost City, an underground tunnel complex originally constructed by the Altrusians. They hate bright light and rarely venture out during the day. Sleestaks also have a "hibernation season" during which they cocoon themselves into rocky alcoves using some sort of webbing; cool air keeps them in hibernation, and the heat from lava in a pool that the character Peter Koenig (see below) dubbed "Devil's Cauldron" inside the caverns of the Lost City revives them again on a regular schedule.
Between a rock and a hard place is the proverbial worst spot for people to find themselves in. But for certain deep-sea microbes, it’s the place to be. In 2000, to our surprise, we found that microscopic nooks and pits within volcanic seafloor rocks harbor abundant colonies of previously unidentified microbes. These microbes are different from other microorganisms living in the sunless depths. They do not obtain the energy they need to grow and multiply by metabolizing chemicals dissolved in seawater or in hydrothermal fluids venting from the seafloor. Instead, these newly discovered microbes are living directly off minerals in solid seafloor rocks. The microbes are oxidizing iron in the rocks, chemically altering the rocks, and harnessing the energy produced by this chemical reaction to live. Their discovery has raised a slew of intriguing questions: Does our planet sustain abundant and ubiquitous populations of these microbes? Do they play a pivotal role in chemically altering Earth’s crust? Were they pioneering life forms on an early Earth, which was largely devoid of oxygen but full of iron? Do they exist on other iron-rich, oxygen-poor planetary bodies such as Mars? These previously inconspicuous microorganisms may turn out to have starring roles in shaping the evolution of life on Earth and other planets, and shaping the evolution of the planet itself. So why didn’t we notice them before? Beyond the inherent difficulties and expense of searching for microorganisms at the bottom of the ocean, the answer is that we hadn’t really looked for them before. But now these easy-to-overlook microbes have become hard to ignore.