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No. 42: Nov-Dec 1985

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Remarkable Distribution Of Hydrothermal Vent Animals

Hydrothermal vents support a bizarre array of large clams, mussels, worms and other curious species. These biological communities are unique in that they are supported not by solar energy but rather the earth's thermal energy. What verges on the anomalous is the appearance in both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans of very similar vent communities, with similar or identical species. How did these continent-separated communities originate ? In the words of the author of the present article, "The cooccurrence of a clam, a mussel, and a vestimentiferan worm at widely separated sites in the Pacific and Atlantic represents either an unusual distribution from a single lineage or, even more remarkably, cases of parallel evolution. " (Grassle, J. Frederick; "Hydrothermal Vent Animals: Distribution and Biology, " Science, 229:713, 1985.)

From Science Frontiers #42, NOV-DEC 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss