Life at the hydrothermal vents main content.

Life at the hydrothermal vents

Part of Hall of Planet Earth.

Life at Hydrothermal Vents AMNH/R.Mickens

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The floor of the deep ocean is almost devoid of life, because little food can be found there. But around hydrothermal vents, life is abundant because food is abundant. Hot, mineral-rich fluids supply nutrient chemicals. Microbes, some of which eat these chemicals, form the base of the food chain for a diverse community of organisms. These vents are the only places on Earth where the ultimate source of energy for life is not sunlight but the inorganic Earth itself.

Did life begin at deep-sea vents?
This is one theory, and it is supported by several lines of evidence. First, s