A2: Fifty Thousand year old life forms found in Mexican caves

Title:  Life forms that could be 50,000 years old found in caves in Mexico

Source:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/18/life-forms-that-could-be-50000-years-old-found-in-caves-in-mexico

Date: Feb 17, 2017

Summary: A science team discovered 40 different microbes  suspected to be around 50,000 years old in underground caves of Mexico. They have very distinct genome, the closest relative still only share 90% similarity. They survived by consuming minerals found in the caves, like  iron and manganese.

Connection: We’ve been discussing the metabolism of microbes, and they are  an example of chemolithotrophs since they consume non-organic metals. It is an interesting look at the extreme conditions that microbes are able to live in.

Critical Analysis: The biggest shortcoming of this article is that it is relatively short. It may have been helpful if they linked to some of the primary sources and presentation given by these scientists. However, the information in the article seems accurate, they used many direct quotes by the scientists

Questions: What were these “extreme” conditions the microbes were found in? They mention it in the article but doesn’t state what the conditions were exactly.

1 Comment for “A2: Fifty Thousand year old life forms found in Mexican caves”



This article is incredible interesting! The fact that these caves were left untouched for so long before Boston started working is surprising considering the amount of information she was able to get from the crystals inside. You are right the article is short, but it seems like it may be short since the scientists can’t quite give too much information until their research is done. Hopefully Boston will be able to finish her research and publish her findings, that would be an interesting paper to read. I did a very small amount on internet searching after reading this article and it seems like some of these types of extreme crystal caves were only discovered very recently and that they are well known, just scientifically they are still a mystery. Another connection to class is that this is a chemolithotroph and a hyperthermophile, possibly belonging to the Phylum Crenarchaeota (based off of the guest lecture 3/1/17). Considering the extreme environments, and the possible age of these microbes, I wonder what the generation time is for this organism. Mexico’s Chihuahua state is located in northern Mexico on the border of Texas, an area known to be hot, dry and sandy, which is what the word chihuahua means. Weatherspark.com says that in the summer the temps average 88F, and in the winter average temp is still around 70F. I found a few other articles in regards to mines found in the Naica, Chihuahua State area. One by National Geographic said that in the Cueva de los Cristales which lies 1000ft below the Naica mine, the temp is about 112F because the cave lies above an intrusion of magma about a mile below the surface.