Science/Tech

Scientists Find New Spot And Prove Life Cannot Exist There

ethiopia-634222_960_720
The dallol region of northern Ethiopia is a hydrothermal area known for its alien-like surroundings. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

Throughout time, different types of life forms have adapted after millions of years of evolution to survive in some of our planet’s most unforgivable places, which includes those that are superacidic, supersalty and of course, superhot.

With that being said, however, are some life forms able to evolve so much that they can survive in a region where all those three aforementioned conditions are present?

According to a new study, they can’t.

Lifeless Region on Earth

The region in question is the so-called Dallol hydrothermal region found in northern Ethiopia. A unique, terrestrial system, it’s known for its unearthly greens and yellows, which color the alien-like landscape, looking straight out of a sci-fi movie. But make no mistake, it’s real, and some of its areas are so harsh there’s no trace of life that can be found in it.

To test this, researchers decided to sample a number of water from its numerous brines. The researchers then analyzed all of the genetic material that are found in these samples, eager to see if they can find any living organisms.

Based on their research, some of the milder pools are full of sodium chloride, which means some organisms can still survive in it. There are also areas with really high concentrations of magnesium-based salt, which they described as “deleterious” for life. Lastly, they found areas that are very hot, acidic and contained magnesium salts. From this area, the researchers were not surprised to find no trace of any DNA whatsoever, meaning no life can survive in it.

Still, some of the milder regions are full of archaea, which is a type of microbe.

"The diversity of archaea is really very, very large and very surprising," Purificación López-García, study senior author and the research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, said. "There is this idea … that says any planet with liquid water on the surface is habitable. But as the lifeless pools of Ethiopia may suggest, water might be a necessary condition, but it is far from sufficient."

Moving forward, the researchers believe that this new paper can lead to better understanding of how different organisms survive to different conditions present in our planet.

ethiopia-634222_960_720 The dallol region of northern Ethiopia is a hydrothermal area known for its alien-like surroundings. Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

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