New Life-Forms Found in Blue Holes—Clues to Life in Alien Oceans?

Bacteria in Bahamas may resemble possible microbes on icy moons, experts say.

Many of the blue holes' microbes aren't known to science. But the colonies that the team was able to identify appear to feed on sulfur compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide, that are toxic to most other forms of life.

The announcement of the hardy new bacteria intrigues not only researchers seeking extreme life on Earth but also those looking for it off-world.

That's because similar conditions might exist in pitch-black oceans millions of miles away—perhaps under the icy crusts of Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, said Kevin Hand, an astrobiologist and NASA's deputy chief scientist for solar system exploration.

(See "Could Jupiter Moon Harbor Fish-Size Life?")

"My ears always perk up when I hear about sulfur-based ecosystems and

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