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March 14 2013

Intraterrestrials: Life Thrives in Ocean Floor

An entire ecosystem living without light or oxygen flourishes beneath the ocean floor, a new study confirms.

Scientists call it the dark biosphere, and it's potentially one of the biggest ecosystems on the planet. Buried oceanic crust covers 60 percent of Earth's surface. For the first time, researchers have pulled up pieces of the crust and examined the life within. In its rocks, microbial communities thrive, eating altered minerals for food, the study found.

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