Scientists have discovered a surprisingly rich ecosystem at the peaks of extinct underwater volcanoes
While searching the depths of the Arctic Ocean, a group of scientists discovered a surprisingly rich and densely populated ecosystem at the peaks of extinct undersea volcanoes. Among the life forms found there are some that have been described as having “a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ appearance”. A study on the topic was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
“Blooming on top of the extinct volcanic seamounts of the Langseth range, we found huge sponge gardens, but we didn\’t know what they were feeding on,” said Antje Boetius, head of the Max Institute\’s Deep Sea Ecology and Technology Research Group. Planck. After more detailed analyses, it was possible to identify how these beings adapted to such a nutrient-poor environment.
The results suggest that the creatures feed on the remains of an extinct fauna. “Our analysis revealed that sponges have microbial symbionts capable of using A̳n̳c̳i̳e̳n̳t̳ organic matter. This allows them to feed on the remains of extinct seamount inhabitants, such as worm tubes composed of protein and chitin and other debris,” explained Teresa Morganti, a sponge expert at the Max Planck Institute and lead author of the study.
The research is further proof that there are many mysteries to be unraveled about Earth\’s life forms. “There is so much a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳-looking life, especially in the ice-covered seas, where we barely have the technology to access it, look around and make a map,” said Antje Boetius.