Clues to how life evolved, not only on this planet but also possibly on alien worlds, might be found in underwater caves in the Bahamas, researchers say.
The caves in question are called "blue holes," so-named because from the air, their entrances appear circular in shape, with different shades of blue water in and around them. There are estimated to be more than 1,000 such caves in the Bahamas, the greatest concentration of blue holes in the world.
"It's really incredible to be swimming down a passage that no one has ever been in before, to experience that thrill of discovery," said researcher Tom Iliffe, a marine biologistat Texas A&M University at Galveston. "At the bottom of a cave, there's no telling what might be around the next corner."
Iliffe and his colleagues examined three inland blue holes in the Bahamas. They discovered that layers of bacteria exist in all three, but each of these water-filled sinkholes had significantly different microbes living in them from the others.
"We're finding new forms of life that are totally unknown elsewhere on Earth," Iliffe told OurAmazingPlanet.
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