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National Park - Travertine Occupants
of sign - Mammoth Hot Springs area trail at Yellowstone National
taken June 2008
view of sign
view of sign
are looking at a world of heat loving microorganisms called
"thermophiles." Billions of them live, die and are buried at
filamentous bacteria link together, creating chains that can spread into
aprons. They live on hydrogen sulfide gas rising
vents - the gas you likely smell here.
flowering plants, colorful cyanobacteria use light for energy, or photosynthesize.
If other microorganisms did not consume
sulfide gas near the vents, these sun-loving microbes would be poisoned.
deep underground, water rises through buried limestone, then deposits the
mineral calcite above ground. The calcite
becoming travertine. As hot spring water flows, trees, grasses,
thermophiles, and even the boardwalk are entombed!
by a coat of travertine, a fossil-like impression of thermophiles is cast in
stone. These travertine impressions are
of former thermophile communities.
hot springs are among Earth's most extreme environments. Yet
life survives and thrives in conditions that would be
to humans. Scientists studying hot spring habitats are
learning about life's limits on Earth. What they learn here
may also aid
search for life on other planets.
exhibit made possible by a generous grant to the Yellowstone Park Foundation
from NASA Astrobiology Institute and
Martin Space Operations.
on the sign
to the text there is a picture of filamentous bacteria, cyanobacteria,
entombed filamentous bacteria and entombed
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