From 1500 meters to much deeper in the sea, where there is just darkness, high pressures and almost no oxygen, there also exist some impressive geological formations which comes from the deep of the earth. These formations are called Hydrotermal Vents. Geysers like natural chimneys which bring extremely hot water from inside earth, full of minerals and toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

But, here, there is life, lots of it. The high pressures here don’t allow the hot water to boil, and the minerals and gasses give living supplies for and amazing creature: the Riftia worms. These animals have no mouth or even a digestive system but they manage to get food for living. They born having a digestive system, which they use just to let enter and store and special kind of bacteria inside their bodies, and then, it modifies itself, to give these bacteria a friendly environment where to live. Then, the worm replace its mouth for a feather like organ which it uses to absorb the gases and minerals from the geiser. These minerals are transported by its blood to where the bacterias are, and finally, these tiny inhabitants transform the toxic elements into nutritive molecules which the worm can feed on. This is a symbiotic relation, where the worm gives protection and some of the molecules for the chemical reaction, and the bacteria provides food both.

These Riftia worms live in one of the most extreme environments known. But, they are notoriously successful here. They swarm by thousands, grow up to three meters and have no predators. The only thing they have to do if disturbed, is just to hide their feathers inside their protective tubes, made on chitin. This is why they are a meaningful example of why live is always exploring new habitats.

But the most important, the discovering of creatures like them, changed dramatically the known concepts of live.

Version en espanol (spanish version)