Hydrothermal Vents And The Start Of Life Underwater

There are such things as underwater volcanoes. With the help of these volcanoes, hot springs, known as hydrothermal vents, are formed due to converging plate boundaries. The vents are important because they hold biological molecules that resemble enzymes, which suggests that they may hold life within them.

Hydrothermal Vents: The Start Of Life Underwater?

Hydrothermal vents were first discovered by scientists about thirty years ago in 1977, near the Galapagos Islands. Along with this finding, a large number of previously unseen organisms were also uncovered. Now, scientists, like Dr. Nora de Leeuw from the University College London in the United Kingdom, believe that the hydrothermal vents could very well be where life began; the water inside these vents is hot and turbulent, filled with carbon dioxide that has been dissolved within the water – the same form of carbon that living organisms are based on.

Research Reveals The Building Blocks Of Life

Experiments were conducted in order to essentially mimic the start of underwater life inside these hydrothermal vents. Computer simulations, for example, demonstrated the molecule by molecule process, giving researchers a glance as to what may have happened millions of years ago. The structures inside the vents may have acted as catalysts, which encouraged chemical changes to occur.

Today, the life around the vents can range from huge, red-tipped tube worms to ghostly fish, as well as shrimp with eyes on their back. Chemosynthesis helps these creatures thrive in the absence of sunlight. Microbes at the base of the food chain convert chemicals from the hydrothermal vents into usable energy. This energy alone is a big part in allowing these organisms to exist.

Hydrothermal Vents And The Start Of Life Underwater - Clapway

Hydrothermal vents could also be same type of hot vents that spontaneously produced the organic molecules necessary for life itself. Of course, there is still a lot of speculation on the subject. Scientists, however, are very excited at the prospect of the idea, and the continued study of these underwater volcanoes appears to be a good place to start.

Nature and wildlife may have all sprouted from these hydrothermal vents. See the beauty of the world here: