Naica's crystal caves hold long dormant life.

The Naica Mine holds the Cave of the Crystals a stunning array of enormous gypsum crystals that are buried 2,625 feet deep within Mexico’s Naica Mine. This is a beautiful place you want to try and visit sometime in your life. Inside this magical natural phenomenon are giant gypsum crystals, with the largest being 39 feet long and weighing 61 tons. But recently scientists have discovered something else that has been lurking within this swelteringly hot cave for a very long time. And that something might completely change our understanding of biology. Scientists have found a new form of microbial life, and it’s unlike anything that has been seen before. You will want to take a closer look at the photos of these stunning crystal caves.

The microbes that have been found in the crystal caves have trapped in fluid inclusions within the crystals themselves. The microbes are ancient, with scientists estimating they range up to 50,000 years old. It seems that the microbes are living off manganese, iron and other metallic elements, using them to produce the required nutrients to survive. A microbe is a term that is used for tiny creatures that by themselves are simply too small to be seen with the unaided eye. Microorganisms can live in every part of the biosphere, hot springs, to include soil, the deepest parts of the ocean, inside rocks and high in the atmosphere. Microorganisms, under certain test conditions, have been observed to thrive in the vacuum of outer space. Microorganisms likely far outweigh all the other living things on the planet combined. The environment in which the microbes were found is very hot, humid and acidic. And with no light at that depth, any lifeform within the caves would have to chemosynthesis to survive. Meaning it must get its energy needed to sustain itself by processing rock minerals.

It is important to note that within the Cave of the Crystals, the air temperatures hover around 136° Fahrenheit at humidity values of up to with 99 percent. These are extremely hot conditions, and without the proper form of protection, the average person can only remain conscious in the caves for about ten minutes. Which makes these microbes extremophiles, in that they can not survive in these extreme conditions but thrive within them. According to the team of NASA microbiologists that discovered the tiny creatures, this is all of the information that the public or the press is allowed to receive right now. Subject to peer review first, all of the data found is currently being withheld by the space agency. This, of course, is sure to fuel some conspiracy theories. The chief of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute announced the remarkable find at the annual gathering of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The microbes are being described as super life.

Extremophiles have been found all around the world, from acidic hot springs, deep-sea vents, within volcanic craters and even within the earth's crust itself. It's amazing how life seems to find a way no matter the conditions. Humans are just one species out of a trillion, and just because humans can’t thrive in any environment they want, it doesn’t mean the same principle applies to the world of microbiology. These ancient, and newly discovered microbes found in the Cave of the Crystals may seem strange, but extremophiles are a lot more commonplace than humans. This is just one of the stories you will find on the IFL Science site. On the site, you will find stories about the environment, chemistry, physics, plants and animals, the brain, health and medicine, space, technology, and more. **

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