Microbes survived inside giant cave crystals for up to 50,000 years | Science News

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Microbes survived inside giant cave crystals for up to 50,000 years

Extremophiles hint at possible resilience of life beyond Earth

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12:55pm, February 18, 2017
Naica mine in Chihuahua, Mexico

IN DEEP  Samples from fluid pockets in crystals inside Mexico's Naica mine in Chihuahua revealed life-forms that may have been trapped in the minerals for up to 50,000 years.

BOSTON — Microbes found stowed inside giant crystals in caves in Chihuahua, Mexico, may have survived there for tens of thousands of years. The microorganisms, which appear to be vastly different from nearly all life-forms found on Earth, offer a good indication of how resilient life can be in extremely harsh environments, including those found on other planets.

“These organisms are so extraordinary,” astrobiologist Penelope Boston said February 17 during a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are not close to any known genus scientists have been able to identify, said Boston, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute in Moffett Field, Calif. Their closest relatives live in caves halfway around the world or in volcanic soils or thrive on compounds such as toluene.

For eight years, Boston and her colleagues have been

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