Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Back where it all began

It has been suggested that life originated at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, also called "black smokers". These occur at plate boundaries and hot spots, spewing hot water and are generally inhospitable to life. However, some extreme organisms live there today, and it is thought that life could have originated near hydrothermal vents on the surface of iron sulfide minerals (source). The iron-sulfur world theory was first put forward by Wächtershäuser, whose body of work provides a convincing case.

While these environments potentially have much to tell us about life's history, they harbor many current day mysteries as well. With water reaching up to 400C at depths completely devoid of sunlight, they do not seem like very hospitable places to live. Yet with an abundance of chemosynthetic bacteria in place of photosynthetic organisms, communities are able to form.

I decided to create a few of these extremophile organisms in plush form (you could just tell where this was going, right?)

I have yet to take shop-worthy photos, but this will do for now. These will be in the shop in about two weeks. I seem to be biased toward worms here, but they're some of the prettiest examples I could find. I might make some more diverse offerings on this theme in the future.

One of my favorites is the giant tube worm (Riftia pachyptila). My roommate said the plush is very... suggestive... but hey, I tried to make it as accurate as possible! There is a cluster of five all attached to a black base.

The creature on the left is the Pompeii worm, (Alvinella pompejana), a really furry looking thing.

The pink one in front is a hydrothermal vent scale worm, I can't find a scientific name.

And the fish is an eelpout fish (Thermarces cerberus).

I used this site for reference photos: Deep Sea Photography

Not sure what I'll be working on next, might go back to my tetrapod evolution series and get cracking on Tiktaalik!


CryingCalypso said...

Oh, I'm in love! I'm guessing some hyperthermophile is in there? :D Now you have me wondering what the scientific name is for the vent scale worm... It's just too adorable!

Your blog is my new fave for sure. Lulu=science nerd + cuteaholic + fashion freak >_< You will probably see me here a lot from now on!

Anonymous said...

Whoa, awesome! Now all you need is a plush Alvin to go with them (not to scale, of course).

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