Abyss yields a surprise.


A startling discovery of undersea life has researchers questioning what they thought they knew. Towering white mineral chimneys mark a newly-explored field near the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, whose inhabitants differ from those seen in similar environments.

Previously, scientists looked at "black smoker" vents, chimney-like structures that form when yen' hot water--reaching 370 degrees Celsius--breaks through the ocean floor and meets frigid ocean water. A variety, of unusual creatures have been discovered around black smokers, including tubeworms as long as a couple of metres.

But in work partially funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, researchers found a different ecosystem, which they cared "the Lost City." The scientists reported finding a vent from under the sea where escaping water is less than 80 degrees Celsius. Here, the environment is extremely alkaline, compared to the high...

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