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No. 105: May-Jun 1996

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The Nether Universe Of Life

Bacteria well-adapted to high temperatures have been brought up from oil wells thousands of miles apart. All indications are that these bacteria are indigenous to the wells; that is, not introduced by the drilling fluids. What is most interesting is the fact that these bacteria are all closely related despite their remoteness from each other. They not only look and behave alike, but they also share 98.2% of their 16S ribosomal RNA sequences. M. Magot asks what an anomalist would ask.

"For example, where are these bacteria from? How did they succeed in colonizing these habitats?...Are these microorganisms directly descended from bacteria that were trapped during the formation of the oil, or accompanied its migration through tens to hundreds of millions of years? Did they arrive in the oil field later as a consequence of aquifer activity? What is their mode of maintenance and development in their environment?"

(Magot, Michel; "Similar Bacteria in Remote Oil Fields," Nature, 379:681, 1996)

Comment. Bacteria have also been extracted from mineral-charged fluids circulating in drill holes over 12 kilo meters deep and also in deep aquifers. There must be an unexplored universe of life thriving not only beneath our feet but also - quite possibly - beneath the forbidding surface of Mars.

Reference. Examples of life thriving at great depths in the earth may be found in ESB9 in our catalog: Anomalies in Geology. For a description of this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #105, MAY-JUN 1996. � 1996-2000 William R. Corliss