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The last place on earth… without life

< source 224px)" : srcset =""ima jpg" ge/jpe g"> An ocean worm that lives on the edge of a fantastic blowhole Black smoker at the bottom of the Atlantic (Philip Crassus/SPL)

Weird and wonderful creatures can easily thrive in the most hostile parts of the planet, but there are surely a few for even the harshest places, Rachel Nuwer discovers.


In the Atacame Desert, in northern Chile, it seems like nothing will ever survive. It is one of the driest places to live, parts of Martian space cannot lose the sensation of rain for 50 years. As the poet Alonso de Pu thought in the year 1569tercilla: “Towards the Atacama, the desert coast, you see a place without people, where there are no birds, no animals, no trees, no vegetation. –

However, the Atacama is not lifeless. Microorganisms called endoliths have an alternative to adhesion: they hide in rock pores that have enough tap water to survive on their metabolism,” says Jocelyn Di Ruggiero, a microbiologist at Hopkins University, Johns. they’re all sitting there, ideally on the rocks. It’s pretty intriguing.” image

Life seems to have an incredible ability to find its way forward. In fact, microorganisms have already been around for almost four billion years, which gives them enough time to adapt to the most extreme environments in the natural world =”future/article/20140303-last-place-on-land-without-life – p01t23kc”>< cases>

< source media="(min-width:880px)" srcset="" type="image/webp"> Deep in the interior rocks of Chile's Atacama Desert per (thinkstock)

Deep in the rocks of the Atacama Desert in Chile, there really is enough water in the pores to support life < (thinkstock) /p>

Heat is a good starting point for this question and answer. The heat tolerance record currently belongs to a group of microorganisms called hyperthermophilic methanogens, present near deep hydrothermal vents. Some of these microorganisms can grow at temperatures up to 122°C (252°F). Explorer

Most people will recognize that around 150 °C (302 °F) is the theoretical limit of one’s life. n times. At this temperature, proteins are broken down and chemical reactions can take place, a quirk of biochemistry that life on Earth adheres to (as far as we know). This means that microorganisms can thrive near hydrothermal vents, but not directly where they can reach temperatures up to 464°C (867°F). The same goes for creating the interiors of a single volcano on active earth: “I think really hot and cold temperatures are the most unpredictable parameter,” says Helena Santos, a microbial physiologist at the New Lisbon University and president of the For international Society. Extremophiles. When something is asked, she says enough: “It can be done – it can all be destroyed.”