Going off the same train of thought as yesterday something came across my attention while watching the fantastic television series known as planet earth. Well to be fair to each of them two things came to my attention Snottites and Shortfin Mollies.
So what makes these organisms interesting? Well quite simply they both live in Sulfuric Acid. For those of you that don’t know Sulfuric Acid is one badass mamma jammer. This stuff eats through clothing, flesh, and the fumes can screw you six ways from Sunday. If you asked me, and clarified it was not a trick question, if anything lived in Sulfuric Acid I’d say “Psh. No.” or at least “Extremely Unlikely.” Yet these bacteria and those FISH…yes multicellular FISH…live there apparently pretty damn happily.
This helps expand upon yesterday because its an example of how in some of the most extreme conditions (I don’t know about you but flesh eating acid is pretty extreme to me) organisms as big as fish can even survive. While I’m not sure what the fish are chomping at this time the bacteria appears to live off of the hydrogen sulfide gas (See: Gas that can kill you). This show also discussed a bacteria that ate rock and there are strains that can even survive off rock and hydrogen. (Hydrogen again being one of the most common elements in the universe).
This may even be how life started on Earth and likely every other planet that has seen life. Organisms that can survive in extreme conditions and survive off a simple gas and eat rock (rock eaters are known as lithovores for those of you that love fancy words or have played Master of Orion 2). Massive chunks of ice traveling across the galaxy with invisible (to the naked eye) life surviving for incredibly long times (remember my post a while back about the 32,000 year old bacteria…imagine this on a much larger scale).
The more that extreme organisms pop up on Earth the less impressive our planet becomes in terms of being the sole container of life in the universe. I’m starting to think that while large multicellular life is not exactly going to be common because of issues like radiation and the massive energy needs (relatively speaking) of large organisms that can’t be maintained on non optimal planets that we will indeed find bacteria of some sort just about anywhere we go (or at least quite often).
I suppose the best news is that if these things are eating stone all over the galaxy that at least when we meet them we won’t be instantly liquefied by some super voracious bacteria (since we are carbon and not silicon based). It’s truly exciting stuff that just makes space travel all the more exciting.