Home > Astronomy, Climate, Discovery, Environment, Nature, Research, Science > Life Finds a Way Inside Hydrocarbon Lake!

Life Finds a Way Inside Hydrocarbon Lake!

Pitch Lake, Trinidad & Tobago

“Pitch Lake, which is the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world, is a poisonous, foul smelling, hell hole on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. The lake is filled with hot asphalt and bubbling with noxious hydrocarbon gases and carbon dioxide. Water is scarce here and certainly below the levels normally thought of as a threshold for life. Various scientists have suggested that it is the closest thing on Earth to the kind of hydrocarbon lakes that they can see on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Now a group of researchers have discovered that the lake is teeming with microbial life which is thriving in the oxygen-free environment with very little water, eating hydrocarbons and respiring with metals. Gene sequence analysis indicates that these bugs are single-celled organisms such as archea and bacteria.

The researchers say the discovery has exciting implications for the possibility of life on Titan. There is a growing sense that Titan has all the ingredients for life: thermodynamic disequilibrium, abundant carbon-containing molecules and a fluid environment.

This is also evidence that liquid water may not be as important for life as everybody has assumed since some microorganisms can make their own water by chewing on various hydrocarbons. That may make Titan an even better place to look for life than previously thought.”

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