Tuesday 16 October 2012

There May Exist A Shadow Biology

I want there to be an Underdark, but the ecosystem can't work because of energy from the sun. Except maybe it can.

Go and read this interview with Tullis Onstott

The rest of this post is just zero-creativity rip of quotes from the same thing for people who don't have the time to read it. You should thank Discover Magazine, not me.

"And it had genes for chemoreception, which tells us it’s sensing something  ....it has the capability of moving around. The idea that organisms down there might be moving around and interacting with the environment—that was really surprising. The only tip-off from the genome that this is a subsurface organism is that it has no protection against oxygen. As soon as it hits air, it’s dead."

Yesssss, chromoreceptors two miles down, sensing something, moving around, yesssss.

"Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator is entirely self-sufficient. It has its energy source, radiation..... Such things aren’t supposed to exist."

Feeding on radiation in the lightless depths, good, goooood.

"There may exist a shadow biology—very, very primitive organisms that may have come into existence very early on our planet but were completely replaced by DNA organisms everywhere else."

"The mine has a helical tunnel that goes a kilometer and a half down. All this warm air comes up from below, and as soon as it hits the permafrost layer, where the ground is permanently frozen, all the moisture in the air crystallizes and you get huge snowflakes, a couple of feet wide"

"The more I learn, the more it seems that the requirements for life are pretty minimal. The niches that life can occupy never cease to amaze me. A place may look terrible to us, but to something else, that’s their Eden."

There is also this:- "Subsurface biota extends over a wide variety of habitats that can be spatially interconnected."
 (Click image for link)


  1. I always love hearing about extremophiles - like those sulphur-eating deep-sea thermal dwellers. Or bacteria that sit there growing fat around the cracks of toxic waste barrels.

    The idea of pre-DNA organisms lying hidden somewhere is quite intriguing... Or what if they had DNA, but it wasn't ACTG letters that made up the strands? What if it was another alphabet altogether? Yessssssss...

  2. In the Bill Bryson book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, he talks about these organisms. I don't have it to hand but he cites some statistic along the lines of 99% of the earth's biomass being found in the crust and below.

    1. I daydream about doing a Vornheim-style Underdark Book. Albino whales hunting phospherescent shrimp in hidden oceans.

    2. Do it then. There is no time like the present.

    3. I second that! You need no-one's permission to make something creative and awesome.

    4. Thirded. Extremophiles, subterranean ecologies, and the Underdark can only combine to make something awesome.

  3. This and your previous post have prompted me to follow your blog. Like you, I love the idea of an entire alien world of darkness under our feet. In my own blog I occasionally post something about the underworld (my campaign term for the underdark). My latest post on fungi is not as biologically rigorous as your previous post but there is at least a nod towards some sort of ecology.

    1. Sorry, thought I was replying to "Allright Then". It's this and your NEXT post that have caught my interest.