Skip to main content

Live Tiny, Die Never: Behold the Toughest Animal on Earth - Facts So Romantic

Live Tiny, Die Never: Behold the Toughest Animal on Earth - Facts So Romantic Read full article

17 March 2017, 7:00 am
Pocket

nautil.us


Extremophiles raise the prospect that perhaps life first emerged in what we—sunny children of a relatively easy, superficially life-friendly environment—have until recently considered impossible conditions.Photograph by Nicole Ottawa & Oliver Meckes / Eye of Science / Science Source Images

With global climate change, habitat loss, poaching, pollution, and environmental abuse of all kinds, these are tough times for the natural world, which is all the more worrisome given the widespread assumption that life is delicate and fragile, often painfully so.

At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that unlike individual lives, and the extinction-prone vulnerability of many species, life itself is paradoxically robust. Enter: extremophiles. This word didn’t exist a few decades ago, and has only entered widespread use in the 21st century. It refers to organisms that survive—even, thrive—in environments that are extremely hot, cold, highly acidic or alkaline, circumstances that would be lethal for most living things. Not surprisingly, their mere existence has excited the admiration and wonder of biologists. 

The first asphalt roads in such eastern U.S. cities as New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., were paved with natural asphalt taken directly from Pitch Lake, in Trinidad. The first Europeans to discover this natural curiosity,…
Read More…