The Mexican Peninsula Yucatan is undoubtedly the most famous one thing: it was the asteroid attack point that caused the dinosaur's apocalypse 66 million years ago. However, the whole area has many unexplored caves and ponies, and a new study has revealed that some of them are filled with unpublished life.
An adventure team that has come to the discovery – led by the A & M University in Texas and the USGS – has conducted a comprehensive ecological study of the cave network of Ox Bel Ha, located along the northeastern coast of the peninsula.
They found that within these caves are found bacterial colonies that live in low-oxygenated waters and in almost complete darkness. There are not many organic substances that fall from the top to feed the bacteria. Instead, they live by consuming an invisible, dissolved substance consisting predominantly of carbon and methane.
They're not the same. The team explained that these bacteria were the backbone of the entire submarine ecosystem, and that their unusual way of obtaining food was adopted by some of the crabs living in the same habitat
In an article published in Nature Communications an international team of scientists has explained that, for example, about 21 percent of the diet of one species of shrimp is only methane.
Unlike the deep ocean, where methane flows upwards from hydrothermal ventilation systems and bypasses bacteria at the seabed, methane forms in this maze beneath the ground jungle on the surface. Over time, it descends down to this flooded cave, which ultimately makes the base for this bizarre ecosystem.
As far as nutrition is concerned, this is far from the typical thing that can be.
Methane may seem odd to us, breathing in air and walking on the land, but it is actually a vital component of life that lives in extreme, often unexplored world environments.
It is well known that numerous areas deep in the oceans and hidden beneath Arctic permafrost and the huge Antarctic ice sheets contain methanogens, microorganisms belonging to the archeum domains (Lat. Archaea) and which produce methane. The Ecological System Consuming Methane in Caves Ox Bel Ha gives a wonderful new element story
Although this is undoubtedly a very impressive discovery for evolutionary ecologists, he points out the worrying pattern that is being seen today in the world's oceans. Thanks to the increased amounts of carbon dioxide and methane in the world's oceans – largely affected by climate change – oxygen levels decline.
"Deoxygenization is a growing problem," said speaker John Pohlman, a biogeochemist from USGS. "The processes we investigate in these [špiljskim] systems are analogous to those that occur in the global ocean."
In short, methane is excellent for extreme lovers, but it flows into the oceans, less likely that many other forms of life will survive in the long run.
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